Save our School Meals! Update on Child Nutrition Reauthorization

School meals and community eligibility for school meals are just two components to the federal Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act, which must be renewed by Congress every 5 years. During this process, Congress debates new funding levels, ways to strengthen and improve children nutrition programs, and new policies to make sure our nation’s children have access to healthy, nutritious food. School, after-school and summer meals are just some examples of these programs. GBFB and Feeding America, along with hundreds of other hunger-relief organizations like FRAC are working hard to advocate for strong CNR to ensure children have access healthy and nutritious food.

Unfortunately, on May 18, the House Education and Workforce Committee passed a deeply flawed bill that included a block grant pilot of the school meals program, significant changes to the Community Eligibility Provision, and limited investments to the summer meals program. Block Grants cap and cut critical funding to schools and threaten access to healthy meals for children, and weakening the community eligibility provision will impact about 18,000 of the nation’s poorest schools and could impact over 8.5 million low-income students. Quick Facts:

  • According to the USDA, about 30.5 million children in 2015 received free, reduced-price and paid lunches through the National School Lunch Program each day.
  • Out of the 30.5 million, about 22 million children receive and rely on free and reduced-price lunches each and every day.
  • In Massachusetts, that number is 322,000 children receiving free and reduced-priced meals.
  • 71 community eligibility schools serve 26,049 children in Massachusetts (210 additional schools could lose the opportunity to adopt community eligibility in the future in this bill passes).

The House will be in session for the next four weeks and GBFB is working tirelessly to prevent this bill to go to a vote in the House. Our simple goal for Child Nutrition Reauthorization: Pass a good CNR bill this year that moves us forward, and not backwards.  We believe there is still an opportunity to pass a good bill this year given the strong support among many in Congress, the Administration and YOU. PLEASE Call Your Representative ASAP! Calling Congress is easy.  Here’s how:

  1. Just dial our toll free number, (888) 398-8702 and listen to the recorded message.
  2. Enter your zip code. Once you are connected to your Member of Congress, state that you are a constituent and give your name and the town you are calling from.
  3. Let the office know you are calling about Child Nutrition Reauthorization.

Deliver this message to your Representative:

  • My name is [NAME] and I am a constituent and supporter of The Greater Boston Food Bank. I am calling to ask the Representative to oppose any effort to block grant any of the child nutrition programs.
  • Block Grants cap and cut critical funding to schools and threaten access to healthy meals for children.

Child Food Insecurity in Massachusetts: According to Feeding America’s recent Map the Meal Gap 2016 research, there are more than 745,000 food insecure children in Massachusetts – that is 1 in 6 children at risk of hunger in our Commonwealth. In Eastern Massachusetts there are approximately 160,000 food insecure children. With that many children at risk of food insecurity, GBFB does its best to ensure that children and families have access to the proper nutrients and healthy food to be able to lead successful and happy lives.

Let’s Work Together

GBFB can’t do it alone and the current federal Child Nutrition Reauthorization will be critical to the stability of our hunger-relief system in the United States for years to come. For struggling families, maintaining consistent access to healthy food can be incredibly challenging, with the consequences of an inadequate diet both immediate and far-reaching. A 2011 study by the Society for Research in Child Development reports that these consequences include inadequate nutrient intake, obesity, poor school performance and academic delays, as well as poor social functioning and behavior problems. Child hunger is unacceptable. Hunger is a solvable problem. We must come together – public, private and non-profit sectors – to protect our most vulnerable citizens; our children. Children need access to the proper nutrients and healthy meals to be able to focus at school, be active and grow up to be successful and happy members of our community. Together, we CAN end hunger here.

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