CLEVELAND – Hunger and food insecurity have persisted in 22 million children nationwide, including 5.6 percent of children in Cuyahoga County who have difficulty getting enough to eat.
For this reason, 344 national, state and local groups are calling on Congress to permanently extend the summer electronic benefit transfer program for all children eligible for free and discounted school meals.
In Ohio, the letter in support of the $ 25 billion child starvation law was signed by the following groups:
- Child hunger alliance
- Freestore Foodbank
- Local affairs
- Ohio Association of Foodbanks
- The center for community solutions
- YMCA from Central Ohio
In April, the Biden government expanded the EBT pandemic program to offer free summer meals to nearly 30 million children eligible for free and discounted lunches.
The program – part of the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic when tens of thousands of U.S. students lost access to free or low-cost school meals – kept about 3 million children from starvation, according to a report by the Hamilton Project.
It has also filled a significant gap in summer meals that has existed for years, despite a federal program promising that children who receive free and inexpensive meals during the school year can receive them during the months when classes are not in attendance.
The Summer Food Service program underserves the 29 million children who qualify and only reaches about 1 in 7 eligible students. So says Kalena Thomhave, who writes on poverty and inequality for The American Prospect, an independent, nonprofit journalism site that covers politics and public policy.
The problem: the program requires children to eat one physical meal. Children might have difficulty getting to and from the sites, Thomhave wrote, and the requirements are usually strict.
This also means that eating places must be in areas where 50 percent of children are entitled to a free and discounted lunch.
“That makes access especially difficult for children in rural areas,” wrote Thomhave.
The low number of participants in the Summer Food Service Program prompted the US Department of Agriculture in 2011 to test a program that would expand similar benefits to today’s P-EBT program in a handful of states. Randomly selected families who were already receiving a supplementary nutritional support program or benefits for women, infants, and children received additional benefits of $ 60 or $ 30 each month.
The pilot program was of limited scope and operated in 11 states and three Indian tribal organizations. But according to the USDA, it was a success. On the results of a report from 2016:
- The most serious form of food insecurity (very poor food security) has been reduced by a third, and food insecurity in general by a fifth.
- Children ate better and consumed more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products; Children whose families received $ 60 more a month consumed significantly more of these products than children whose families received half that amount.
Now is no time to step back from a pandemic-era policy that fills hungry children’s bellies in the summer months, says Crystal FitzSimons, who leads the Food Research & Action Center’s nutrition programs efforts.
“If you give families more resources to buy food, that’s what happens,” said FitzSimons, whose organization is part of more than three dozen other education, hunger and child aid groups that support the Stop Child Hunger Act.
“You’re buying more fruits and vegetables,” she said, “and the quality of the food goes up.”
Proper nutrition and child wellbeing are opposite sides of the same coin, said FitzSimons. Likewise, food insecurity and obesity. It is not enough that children get enough to eat; it has to be the real food, she said.
Preparing for the “cyclical nature of hunger” – that is, running out of benefits before the end of the month – may include replenishing relatively inexpensive, lower-nutrient foods. Adults in some families skip meals so the children can eat – one of a series of bad decisions they face when pantry shelves go bare.
“Parents work hard to keep children safe from food insecurity,” said FitzSimons. “They will skip meals and reduce their food intake to protect their children.”
The connection between the right diet and the school behavior of children has long been known. The simple explanation is, “When children are hungry, they have a hard time concentrating and concentrating in school,” FitzSimons said, but she pointed out that access to healthy food is also an important issue for equality and justice is.
“At the intersection of food insecurity, child nutrition programs and health, a big piece of the puzzle is that programs are just and just,” she said.
The Stop Child Hunger Act, HR 3519, was sponsored in the home of Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA); Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT) is the original co-sponsor. A Republican, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, is among the 43 co-sponsors
The full list of organizations that support the Stop Child Hunger Act includes:
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
African American Health Alliance
Alliance for Excellent Education
Alliance to End Hunger
American Academy of Pediatrics
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Center for LGBTQ Business Development and Research (CLEAR)
Center for budget and political priorities
Bosses for change
Coalition for Human Needs
Congress Hunger Center
The education foundation
Fair food network
Campaign for children
Food research and action center
Friends of the earth
National After School Association
National Association of School Nurses
National Education Association
National Association for Recreation and Parks
National City League
National Center for Women’s Rights
Network of Jewish aid organizations Human
Save the children
Save the Children’s Action Network (SCAN)
Partner of the school board
Share our strength
Stand for children
Union for Reform Judaism
Union of Concerned Scientists
Conference of Mayors of the United States
Patch has partnered with Feeding America to raise awareness for millions of Americans at risk of starvation. Feeding America, which supports 200 food banks across the country, estimates that approximately 42 million Americans may not have enough nutritious foods to eat in 2021 due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a social project from Patch; Feeding America receives 100 percent of donations. Find out how to donate in your community or find a pantry near you.