The bipartisan Summer Meals Act of 2014 (S. 2527), which would enhance the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Food Service Program, was recently introduced in the Senate. The legislation would help improve nutrition and enhance learning in underserved areas by:
- Better integrating summer learning programs with meal programs
- Making it easier for community-based organizations to participate in the summer meals program
- Addressing barriers to summer meals in rural communities
- Providing a third meal for children who attend evening enrichment programs.
Across the country, 31 million children receive free or reduced price school lunch—meaning their families live at or near the poverty line—but only 1 in 7 of these high-need children have access to summer meals. The Summer Meals Act would help more children access healthful food by lowering the community threshold from 50 percent to 40 percent or more of students receiving free or reduced price lunch to be eligible for the summer meals program, making it consistent with the eligibility for summer learning programs provided through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative. This legislation would also reduce the paperwork burden for community based organizations who want to participate in the program, provide children with transportation to the summer meals sites in hard-to-serve areas, and would also offer an additional meal to children who attend evening programs.
The USDA Summer Food Service Program provides low-income children under age 18 who would normally receive free or reduced price school lunch with quality, nutritious food during the summer. Several programs run in tandem with educational enrichment programs to keep children engaged and safe during the summer months.
To learn more about the Summer Meals Act, please read the following summary: http://frac.org/pdf/support_summer_meals_act_of_2014.pdf