Federal legislation looks to expand summer meals

NJ Congressman Kim Andy Kim recently introduced a bill that would make it easier for communities to serve free summer meals to children.

Kim marked the end of summer and the end of Hunger Action Month by introducing the Summer Meals Reaching Every Area’s Child Hunger (Summer Meals REACH) Act.

“Families across the country experienced hunger during the pandemic, some for the first time,” said Congressman Kim. “In my district alone, there are 55,630 people, including 12,100 children, who don’t have enough to eat. Sadly, we know some servicemembers and their families are among them.’’

The Summer Meals REACH Act would make permanent some of the expiring flexibilities in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) that have made meals more accessible to children during the pandemic, including:

  • Allowing all sites to serve free meals to all children, regardless of a community’s poverty level;
  • Allowing grab-and-go meal service to continue;
  • Modifying the monitoring requirements to allow sponsors to continue to monitor sites remotely.

“Lowering administrative barriers for summer meal programs permanently will help fight summer hunger everywhere, but especially in suburban areas like my district, which often don’t have the high concentration of need to qualify for an ‘open site,’ ” Kim said. “But we know there are hungry families in all kinds of communities—and these changes will help us reach more of them with nutritious summer meals.”

“This measure will go a long way toward ensuring that children have healthy nutrition all summer long,’’ said Adele LaTourette, director, Hunger Free New Jersey. “For far too many children, when schools close, hunger sets in. These common-sense flexibilities will make this program so much easier to operate for the many organizations across New Jersey and the nation that want to feed children in the summer.’’

Read the news release.

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