Statement attributable to Luis Guardia, President, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)
WASHINGTON, April 28, 2021 — Today, President Biden presented the anticipated American Families Plan, a comprehensive plan that will strengthen federal nutrition programs that impact millions of adults and children and go a long way to support struggling families. The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) is thrilled that the Biden administration has heeded the calls of anti-hunger organizations to address the growing hunger gaps in child nutrition driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The administration’s proposal builds upon the efforts to address childhood hunger during the pandemic. During the pandemic, food insecurity has increased for households with children, with a disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx households. The nationwide waivers have helped to mitigate the impact by supporting access to nutritious meals through the child nutrition programs. The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program also has been critical to providing children and their families nutritional resources to help make up for the free and reduced-price meals they are missing due to school or child care closures.
We commend the administration for including provisions that ensure children have access to the nutrition they need year-round. The plan would
- expand Summer EBT to all students eligible to receive free and reduced-price school meals during the school year — 29 million children — and make the program permanent;
- increase the number of high-poverty schools participating in community eligibility, a provision that helps schools and school districts offer free school meals to all children;
- lower the eligibility requirement for elementary schools to participate in community eligibility from 40 percent to 25 percent;
- make it possible for children who receive Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to be eligible automatically for free school meals; and
- provide $1 billion for a healthy foods initiative to build upon the improved school nutrition standards, including offering support and enhanced reimbursement rates for schools meeting higher standards.
These targeted investments will help end summer childhood hunger, ensure access to free school meals to millions of low-income students, increase the number of high-poverty schools that can offer free meals to all students, support school nutrition operations and their efforts to provide healthy and appealing school meals, and eliminate unnecessary financial burdens on millions of low-income households.
The bill also includes critical investments needed to offset rising hunger by providing much-needed assistance to low-income households:
- it provides formerly incarcerated individuals convicted of drug-related felonies with restored access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides equal access to food assistance for those who are reentering into society;
- it expands the Affordable Care Act premiums tax credits to reduce child poverty and hunger; and
- it makes permanent the full refundability of the child tax credit to provide support to families who have been affected by the pandemic and for parents who have been forced to cut down on work or give up jobs to take care of children after losing access to child care.
This package is an important part of the measures that are needed to limit the depth, duration, and economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 crisis. We look forward to working with the Biden administration and Congress on these and additional initiatives to swiftly move the agenda for ending hunger in this country.
FRAC looks forward to supporting this plan and urges Congress to move quickly and enact the proposal. Hungry children can’t wait.
The Food Research & Action Center improves the nutrition, health, and well-being of people struggling against poverty-related hunger in the United States through advocacy, partnerships, and by advancing bold and equitable policy solutions. To learn more, visit FRAC.org and follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.