The House of Representatives recently passed the Build Back Better Act, which includes significant investments in warding off childhood hunger.
The critical child nutrition provisions within the bill are expected to
- Expand the number of schools that would be able to offer free meals to all students through the Community Eligibility Provision;
- Give states the option to implement the Community Eligibility Provision statewide;
- Provide $30 million for school kitchen equipment;
- Provide $250 million for a Healthy School Meal Incentives demonstration project;
- Extend the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program nationwide for students who receive free or reduced-price school meals; and
- Allow states, as well as Indian Tribal Organizations, that participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to provide Summer EBT.
Studies show school meals can help reduce child hunger and improve students’ academic achievement. Community eligibility offers an important opportunity for schools to respond to the increased nutritional needs among their students and overcome the educational disruptions experienced by millions of children due to the pandemic.
Summer EBT complements the community eligibility expansion, helping close the hunger gap that millions of children experience during summer break when they lose access to school meals. Evaluations of the Summer EBT demonstration projects found that the program improved nutrition and reduced food insecurity.
We join with our national partners, including the Food Research & Action Center in urging the Senate to swiftly take up this legislation without delay. FRAC also urges Senate leaders to reject any amendments that could weaken the provisions that currently provide children with the nutrition they will need year-round as they overcome the educational, health, and economic impacts of the pandemic.