As One in Five U.S. Children Suffer from Food Insecurity, Congress Delays Reauthorization of Child Nutrition Bill

08.28.2015

As One in Five U.S. Children Suffer from Food Insecurity,

Congress Delays Reauthorization of Child Nutrition Bill

New Report Urges Lawmakers to Pass Fully-Funded Bill That Slashes

Child Hunger by Removing Paperwork Burdens

Bill Critical to Improving Child Health and Boosting Education

“To be Schooled, You Must Be Fueled; To Be Well Read, You Must Be Well Fed”

The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture cancelled a hearing scheduled for September 17 to mark-up the federal Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) bill, and has yet to set a new date to do so, even though a recent federal report indicated that one in five U.S. children live in “food insecure” homes, struggling against hunger. CNR sets the participation guidelines, funding levels, and nutrition standards for the major federal programs that feed low-income U.S. children, including school meals, WIC, and summer meals.

With the previous CNR (entitled the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010) set to expire on September 30, and with President Obama’s goal of ending child hunger by 2015 far from reality, the New York City Coalition Against Hunger today released a report advocating for fully funding the bill and using it to enact comprehensive policy reforms – including wholesale reductions in paperwork and bureaucracy— in order to guarantee that all Americans under the age of 18 have the year-round nutrition they need to grow up healthy, wealthy, and well-educated.

In 2014, more than half a decade after the Great Recession officially ended, 20.9 percent of U.S. children still lived in homes that couldn’t always afford enough food. Child hunger remained 23 percent higher than it was in 2007, indicating that there has not been a meaningful economic recovery for over 15 million children and their families.

“Food deprivation in the world's wealthiest nation is not only morally unacceptable, but it also severely hampers children's emotional, intellectual, and physical development. Child hunger costs the U.S. economy at least $28 billion per year because poorly nourished kids require far more long-term health care spending and perform less well in school. To be schooled, you must be fueled. To be well-read, you must be well-fed. Ending child hunger will cost far less than the cost of perpetuating it,” said Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition to End Hunger

In the report – entitled “From Well-Fed to Well-Read: How the Federal Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill Can Slash Child Hunger, Reduce Poverty, and Boost Education” – the Coalition urges Congress to use the CNR bill to take the following steps:

  • Focus most on increasing access and reducing hunger for children from low-income and struggling lower middle-class families.
  • Implement paperless universal school meals, dramatically reducing bureaucracy and paperwork.
  • Make universal breakfast mandatory and dramatically expand breakfast in the classroom.
  • Bolster the goal of universal pre-K and expanded after-school programming.
  • Make WIC available for all women and children who need it.
  • Ensure all kids get nutritious summer meals by removing administrative barriers.
  • Oppose attempts to water down nutrition standards.

The report, co-authored by the Coalition’s Director of Child Nutrition Christine Binder and Joel Berg, is available for download at https://nyccah.org/node/1778

Continued Berg, “Simply put, the U.S. must end child hunger as a down payment on ending all domestic hunger. Ending hunger would lift us all, both economically and spiritually. We should settle for nothing short of a fully-funded CNR bill that moves the nation far closer towards that goal. No superpower in the history of the world has remained a superpower if it has failed to adequately feed its own children. The time to end the scourge of U.S. child hunger is long overdue.”

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