Feb 15, 2024

Report Underscores Success of Healthy School Meals for All Policies

Five states had Healthy School Meals for All policies in place during the 2022-2023 school year and the Food Research & Action Center’s (FRAC) new report, The State of Healthy School Meals for All: California, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada and Vermont Lead the Way, highlights the positive impact they had on students and school nutrition departments.
School meals have always played an important role in reducing childhood hunger, supporting good nutrition, and ensuring that students can get the most out of their school day. For more than two school years during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools were able to offer meals to all students at no charge through the pandemic-related child nutrition waivers offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This served as a trial run for nationwide Healthy School Meals for All, and it was a resounding success.

Jan 31, 2024

Meet Our Expert Leading the Way on Why #SNAPMatters

Food Research & Action Center

The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) recently named Salaam Bhatti as its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) director. In this position, Salaam wields his expertise on SNAP, previous experience as public benefits attorney and deputy director of the Virginia Poverty Law Center (VPLC), and lived experience in poverty to advance policies to protect and strengthen SNAP, including advocating for a strong Farm Bill that strengthens benefit adequacy and equitable access to the program.
In this video, FRAC’s Chief Program Officer, Kelly Horton joins Salaam in a conversation on how his previous experiences advocating for SNAP informs his work, FRAC’s SNAP goals in protecting and strengthening SNAP benefit adequacy and equitable access to the program, and how advocates can get involved.

Jan 25, 2024

USDA Releases Interim Final Rule for the Summer EBT Program

Senior Child Nutrition Policy Analyst

The permanent, nationwide Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (Summer EBT) Program is set to begin in summer 2024. Thirty-five states, Washington, D.C. , all five territories, and four Inter-Tribal Organizations (ITOs) have committed to operating the program, providing families with a $120 grocery benefit for each child in the household eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services (USDA FNS) has issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) that details how states must implement and operate the program. Much of the language in this rule reflects what USDA FNS has released in prior guidance documents, including their latest Questions and Answers document. Because it is an interim final rule, there is an opportunity to submit comments on the rule, which are due on or before April 29, 2024.

Dec 22, 2023

Secretary Vilsack Tells Food Law and Policy Professionals that Healthy School Meals for All is a ‘Top Priority’

In a recent volume of the Journal of Food Law & Policy, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack authored a commentary, “Healthy School Meals for All: The Role of Food Law and Policy”. [1]

This piece follows the second historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health that Secretary Vilsack kicked off in September 2022. The first Conference took place in 1969 and resulted in many impactful anti-hunger initiatives such as increasing the reach of the National School Lunch Program and permanently authorizing the School Breakfast Program.

In the commentary Vilsack noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, “[the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)] leveraged every tool at our disposal and applied creative solutions with our partners” to use the federal nutrition programs to get healthy food to individuals and families and prevent widespread food insecurity.

Dec 08, 2023

Summer EBT: The Countdown for States to Commit for Summer 2024 Is On

Senior Child Nutrition Policy Analyst

The permanent, nationwide Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (Summer EBT) program is set to begin in summer 2024. Approximately 30.9 million children from households with low incomes will be eligible to receive a grocery benefit of $120.
Summer EBT reduces childhood hunger and helps ensure that children start the new school year well-nourished and ready to learn. Eligible children can only participate if their state, territory, or Indian Tribal Organization (ITO) opts into Summer EBT.

The Food Research & Action Center’s new state fact sheets detail the positive impact that Summer EBT will have on each state and territory, and the District of Columbia.