All across the country, No Kid Hungry is working to make sure kids are able to get the food they need, every day.
One of the most important ways we do that is by being advocates for children - working with elected officials and government agencies to strengthen and improve access to the nutrition programs that help feed hungry kids.
Modernize the Summer Meals Program
Summer can be a time of hunger for kids, especially those who rely on free meals at school, as many schools are closed in the summer. To meet that need, No Kid Hungry helps communities operate meals programs to feed kids, programs that operate through schools, parks, public libraries and more.
But the federal summer meals program that funds those programs doesn’t reach as many children as it should, especially those living in rural and hard-to-reach communities. We need a modernized summer meals program that:
- Allows communities to operate “non-congregate” sites - programs that provide meals that can be delivered or taken home.
- Gives community groups more flexibility when it comes to the kinds of locations where they operate meals programs.
- Streamlines burdensome administrative requirements for summer and afterschool meals programs, making it easier for schools and community organizations to serve needed meals year-round.
Provide Summer Meals Benefits
For families whose kids are eligible for free meals at school, the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program provides a critical grocery benefit during the summer months.
During the pandemic we saw how effective this was at feeding kids in select states. We need a permanent, nationwide Summer EBT program to make sure every kid gets the food they need.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a monthly benefit that helps parents and caregivers buy groceries. SNAP is one of the most effective ways to make sure kids get the food they need.
But the current program isn’t reaching all the kids and families who qualify. To close this gap and improve the program’s effectiveness, we urge lawmakers to:
- Lower the threshold to qualify for SNAP so more kids are eligible.
- Increase benefits to ensure they reflect the cost of a nutritious diet.
- Expand the availability of online ordering and grocery delivery using SNAP benefits.
- Invest in program modernization and support program innovation.
- Make permanent the program improvements adopted during the pandemic.
Offer Free Meals to More Kids
School meals play an essential role in providing children with healthy food. Programs like the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows schools in high-poverty areas to offer free meals to more students; instead of requiring paper applications from every student, eligible schools can simply feed every kid, free of charge. We urge lawmakers to:
- Extend the benefits of free school meals to more kids who need them by increasing the eligibility for free meals and eliminating the “reduced-price” meal category, as well as expanding the CEP program to allow more schools to participate.
- Allow schools across the country to qualify using existing Medicaid data.
- Improve data systems and technology.
Help Moms and Infants by Improving WIC
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) helps mothers, infants and young children who are at risk of hunger by providing nutritious food, nutrition education, breastfeeding support and referrals to health care and social services.
However, not nearly enough people who need WIC are getting it - a situation that only worsened during the pandemic. We urge lawmakers to:
- Remove barriers to accessing and utilizing WIC.
- Expand access to online shopping and grocery delivery.
- Increase the flexibility of WIC appointments with remote visits.
- Extend program certification periods.