A message from Kevin Seggelke, President & CEO, Food Bank of the Rockies
As school starts up and summer ends, many families feel relief. Not just because their kids are busy studying, but also because free and reduced cost school lunches and maybe even breakfasts are available again. Nearly 1 in 4 kids in Colorado live in families struggling to pay for food. That’s too many. This fall, Congress will decide if these kids deserve to eat breakfast, lunch and even dinner through programs funded with the help of the USDA.
When Congress votes on Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) this fall, we need them to recognize the importance of these programs. Hungry kids can’t achieve what nourished kids can. Healthy, well-fed kids have a better chance to be happy, productive adults. We simply can’t afford to let kids go hungry.
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides federal funds to after-school programs serving meals and healthy snacks to children during the school year. Food Bank of the Rockies serves our Kids Cafe dinners and snacks with the assistance of CACFP. Our summer lunches feed thousands of kids across our service area with help from the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Without the USDA assistance for these programs, many kids would go hungry. We are especially concerned about summer food access and issues faced by food banks and other organizations providing this food.
Congress needs to know:
- Nearly 22 million children nationally receive free and reduced school lunch but less than 1 in 5 of these children receive summer lunch, with rural areas hit especially hard. In Colorado, 91% of the 253,000 children receiving free or reduced lunches during the school year don’t receive a summer lunch.
- Currently, food banks and other nonprofits must operate afterschool and summer feeding sites through two different programs with two sets of administrative requirements. CACFP and SFSP serve the same kids the same meals, often at the same locations. Combining administrative processes, reducing unnecessary paperwork and aligning these programs would allow providers to focus on feeding hungry kids with consistent nutrition all year long.
- Rural families would benefit from a summer child EBT program and meal options allowing kids to eat meals at home rather than requiring logistically difficult congregate feeding.
- The program was passed 40 years ago to close the summer meal gap. Improvements are sorely needed to ensure children in hard-to-reach areas have access to nutritious and healthy meals.
It’s appropriate this bill comes to the floor in September as we recognize Hunger Action Month. Action couldn’t be more important. We need Congress to act on behalf of our children and we need our supporters to reach out now to their Senators and Representative. Can you be our advocate? Tell Congress no child in our great country deserves to go hungry. Working families need help. Ask them to fund and improve these child nutrition programs so critical for thriving children and a bright future.
Thank you for supporting our efforts and championing the fight to feed our children. We won’t rest until every hungry child in our service area is nourished. Together we can solve hunger.