Congress has an important opportunity in 2022 to improve the health of millions of our nation’s children by passing a strong reauthorization bill that strengthens, expands, and protects child nutrition programs. These successful, cost-effective federal nutrition programs play a critical role in helping children in low-income families get access to child care, as well as to educational and enrichment activities while improving their overall nutrition, health, development, and academic achievement.

Congress must enact a child nutrition reauthorization bill that strengthens program access and supports participation by underserved children, ensures nutrition quality, and simplifies program administration and operation. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of the federal child nutrition programs, and several policy improvements that were made during COVID-19 should be implemented permanently by Congress. The reauthorization also should build on the critical gains — which improved access and nutrition — that were made in the last reauthorization.