Public Policy & Advocacy

Tell Congress to Support Healthy & Hunger-Free Children

We need your help to keep the pressure on Congress to mark up and pass a strong Child Nutrition bill this year.

Please join us with your support and contact your Senators and Representatives to tell them that you want a Child Nutrition bill that streamlines regulations and creates greater access for children to get the meals they need to learn, play and grow. 

Enter your zip code below and you will be re-directed to a page that will allow to customize a letter asking Wisconsin Senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson and your own House Representative to support a strong reauthorization of these important programs. 

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  • Child Nutrition Reauthorization Background

    The child nutrition programs are the cornerstone of our national commitment to end child hunger. From infancy to age 18, kids need access to nutritious food to learn, grow, and thrive. The child nutrition programs provide low-income families this critical assistance to kids in day care, at school, and during the summer months. 

    Congress has a valuable opportunity to strengthen the child nutrition programs to ensure our nation’s children have access to healthy, nutritious food. The current bill, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, has been expired since September 30, 2015. It funds a host of important and effective nutrition programs for children including the National School Lunch Program, WIC, Summer Food, and many others.

    A strong child nutrition reauthorization (CNR) bill must build on what’s working in these programs and make meaningful impacts on hunger during the summer. To date, there has been broad bipartisan support in the Senate and House to strengthen the summer meals program. 

    The Senate Bill

    The Senate’s CNR bill, known as "The Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016," passed unanimously out of Committee on January 20. It has received strong support from many state and national organizations, including Feeding Wisconsin, and includes important investments to tackle child summer hunger. We believe that this bill provides a solid foundation for a strong child nutrition bill that can pass this year. We hope that you will join us in urging the full Senate to vote and approve this proposal, which would make key advancements to close the summer meal gap and strengthen access for eligible children.

    The House Bill

    The House version of the bill, introduced in late April as the "Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016" does include some limited investments in summer meals. They however do not go far enough to meaningfully begin to close the summer meal gap.

    Additionally, we are deeply concerned that the bill would attempt to pilot a three-state block grant of the school meals program and roll back the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). Both of these would weaken the school meals program and severely limit access to meals for children at school throughout the the school year.

    Efforts that reduce bureaucratic red-tape in federal programs that also ensure that programs are being effectively delivered to children at risk of hunger are efforts that we should all support. This is exactly CEP does and something that the House Version of the bill would weaken. CEP reduces paperwork and red tape for schools, helping them to ensure eligible children in high poverty areas have access to the school meals they need to learn, play and grow.

    Under the House version, an estimated 7,000 or more schools and 3 million low-income children nationally will have to transfer off of CEP. In Wisconsin, 56 schools would have to reinstate burdensome processes that may affect up to 18,000 children. Additionally, nearly 200 schools in our state would lose the opportunity to utilize CEP in the future.  

    Why are we focused on access to summer food in CNR?

    Summer is the period of the year where children are at the highest risk of hunger. During the school year, children living in families with low-incomes can conveniently eat breakfast and lunch at school for free or at a reduced cost. However when school is out, most of these children lose access to those nutritious meals.  

    Nationally only 18 percent of children who receive free and reduced school meals participate in summer food programs. Our nation must do more to close this summer hunger gap. 

    In Wisconsin, 537,000 children eat lunch at school during the school year through the School Lunch program, including 300,000 kids who qualify for free and reduced price meals (which means they live in families that make less than 185% of the federal poverty line or about $37,000 for a family of three).

    Only 41,000 of the kids who get free and reduced price lunch during the school year are getting meals in the summer. This means that about 260,000 children are missing out to these important summer meals due bureaucratic barriers and red tape.