Home Warner and Kaine call for improvements to childhood nutrition programs

Warner and Kaine call for improvements to childhood nutrition programs


warner kaineU.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine recommended ways Congress can streamline federal childhood nutrition programs to more efficiently feed hungry low-income children outside of school hours.

The Senators’ suggestions come as the Senate prepares a bill to reauthorize those programs, including the national school breakfast and lunch programs – which serve nearly 400,000 hungry kids in Virginia – as well as the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The last time Congress renewed the programs was in 2010.

In a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee, Sens. Warner and Kaine suggested eliminating red tape and consolidating many of the federal programs that feed kids outside of school hours – such as after-school or summer meal programs – into a single, streamlined program to make it easier for local communities to apply for – and receive – funding to offer nutritious meals to hungry children outside of traditional school hours.

“Under current law, schools can provide summer meals through the National School Lunch Program. However, there are different guidelines, eligibility requirements, and applications for non-school organizations based on whether they are providing an afternoon meal during the school year or a meal during the summertime when school is out,” wrote the Senators. “This creates inefficiency and an administrative burden that ultimately deters organizations from serving meals year round.” The Senators encouraged the Agriculture Committee to reduce the paperwork and bureaucratic hurdles that community-based organizations face in getting federal approval to serve free and reduced-price meals to eligible children when they aren’t in school.

The Senators also urged flexibility for summer meal providers. Currently, only 17 percent of qualified Virginia children benefit from the Summer Food Service Program. By  giving camps, local governments, and other organizations greater flexibility in how they serve children meals over the summer, the program will make it easier for students to return to school healthy, well-fed and ready to learn.

The Senators wrote, “We encourage the Committee to ensure the most efficient and effective methods are used to feed kids outside of the school day, no matter where they live.”



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