In the summer months, millions of low-income children lose access to school breakfast, lunch, and afterschool meals that are available during the regular school year. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) fills this gap by providing free meals and snacks to low-income children when school is not in session. Reimbursable summer meals must meet federal nutrition standards and can provide an opportunity for children to access fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to support a healthy diet.
AAP has endorsed the Summer Meals Act of 2015 (S. 613),intended to support and expand summer feeding programs. This bill, previously introduced as the Summer Meals Act of 2014 (S. 2527), by Sens. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) would ensure that low-income children have access to healthy food throughout the summer. This legislation attempts to better integrate summer education and meals programs by lowering the threshold of low-income children eligible for free or reduced-price meals for participation in the Summer Meals Program. The bill also aims to reduce red tape for public-private partnerships that operate summer programs and to improve nutrition in rural, underserved, and hard to reach areas.
AAP also supports legislation introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) called the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act of 2015 (S. 1539, H.R. 2715). This legislation, which aims to reduce child hunger during the summer months, would provide families who have children eligible for free- and reduced-price school meals with an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card. The EBT card will include $150 per eligible child that families can use to purchase food to replace the meals their children would otherwise be receiving at school. EBT cards provided under this program may only be used to purchase food from retail food stores that have been approved for participation in SNAP.
AAP will be working with the sponsors and other advocates on inclusion of summer feeding provisions in Child Nutrition Reauthorization in 2015.