Union City, California – Hunger and food insecurity have not gone away for 22 million children nationwide, including children in Union City who struggle to get enough to eat.
That’s why 344 national, state and local groups are calling on Congress to permanently expand the summer electronic transfer benefits program for all children eligible to receive free and discounted school meals.
In the East Bay, the letter supporting the 25 billion dollars Anti-Child Hunger Act was signed by the Alameda County Community Food Bank and Contra Costa and Solano Food Bank.
In April, the Biden administration extended the pandemic EBT program to provide free summer meals to nearly 30 million children who are entitled to free and discounted lunches.
The program – which is 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 – continued 3 million children to be hungry, according to a report from Project Hamilton.
It also closed a significant gap in summer meals that had existed for years, despite a federal program that promises children who have received free and discounted meals during the school year to continue to receive them during the months. where classes are not in session.
The summer foodservice program sorely underestimates the 29 million eligible children, reaching only about 1 of 7 eligible students. That’s according to Kalena Thomhave, who writes about 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 at a physical meal site. Children can have a hard time getting to and from sites, Thomhave wrote, and the requirements tend to be strict.
This includes stipulations that eating places should be located in areas where 50 percent of children are entitled to a free and reduced price lunch.
“This makes access particularly difficult for children in rural areas,” wrote Thomhave.
The low number of Summer Food Service participants prompted the US Department of Agriculture in 2011 to pilot a program extending similar benefits to today’s P-EBT program in a handful of states. Randomly selected families who were already on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Women, Infant and Child Benefits received $ 60 or $ 30 in additional benefits each month.
The pilot program was limited in scope, operating in 11 states and three Indian tribal organizations. But according to USDA measurement, it was a success. Among the findings of a 2016 report:
- The most severe type of food insecurity (very low food security) has been reduced by a third, and food insecurity in general has been reduced by a fifth.
- Children ate better, consuming more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and dairy products; children whose families received $ 60 more per month consumed significantly more of these products than children whose families received half that amount.
Now is not the time to reverse pandemic-era politics that fill the bellies of starving children during the summer months, says Crystal FitzSimons, who leads the Food Research & Action Center’s efforts around the programs of nutrition.
“If you give families more resources to buy food, this is what happens,” said FitzSimons, whose organization is part of more than three dozen other education groups, fighting against the Child Hunger and Advocacy Supporting the Stop Child Hunger Act.
“They buy more fruits and vegetables,” she said, “and the nutritional quality increases.”
Good nutrition and the well-being of children are opposite sides of the same coin, said FitzSimons. Food insecurity and obesity are too. It is not enough that children have enough food; it has to be the right kind of food, she says.
Preparing for the “cyclical nature of hunger,” meaning exhaustion of benefits before the end of the month, can include storing relatively inexpensive, less nutrient-dense foods. Adults in some families skip meals so children can eat – one of the bad choices they are forced to make as pantry shelves become more bare.
“Parents work hard to protect children from food insecurity,” FitzSimons said. “They will skip meals and reduce what they eat to protect their children.”
The link between good nutrition and how children do in school has long been known. The simple explanation is that “when children are hungry they have a hard time concentrating and concentrating in school,” FitzSimons said, but stressed that access to healthy food is also an issue. important to equality and justice.
“At the intersections of food insecurity, child nutrition programs and health, a huge piece of the puzzle is that the programs are equitable and just,” she said.
The law against hunger among children, RH 3519, was sponsored in the House by Representative Mike Levin (D-CA); Representative Jahana Hayes (D-CT) is the original co-sponsor. One Republican, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, is among the 43 co-sponsors.
Other co-sponsors include Congressmen from East Bay, Representative Eric Swalwell and Representative Mark DeSaulnier, as well as South Bay Representative Ro Khanna whose district extends to East Bay.
The full list of organizations supporting the Stop Child Hunger Act include:
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
African American Health Alliance
Alliance for an excellent education
Alliance Against Hunger
American Academy of Pediatrics
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Center for Economic Advancement and LGBTQ Research (CLEAR)
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Leaders for change
Coalition on Human Needs
Congress Hunger Center
The education trust
Fair supply network
Campaign for children
Food Research and Action Center
Friends of the Earth
National after school association
National Association of School Nurses
National Association of Education
National Association of Recreation and Parks
National Urban League
National Center for Women’s Rights
Network of Jewish personal services agencies
Save the children
Save the Children Action Network (SCAN)
School board partners
Share our strength
Support for children
Union for Reform Judaism
Union of concerned scientists
United States Conference of Mayors
Help Union City children living in food insecure households:
Patch has partnered with Feeding America to help educate the millions of Americans facing hunger. Feeding America, which supports 200 food banks across the country, estimates that by 2021, about 42 million Americans may not have enough nutritious food to eat due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a Patch Social Good Project; Feeding America receives 100 percent of donations. Find out how you can donate in your community or find a pantry near you.