FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2021
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Grace Norman, Chief of Staff/Director of Government Relations
Bipartisan Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act Continues Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty’s Movement for Innovative, Multi-Layered Approach to Addressing Childhood Summer Hunger
Waco, TX – U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) recently introduced the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act, which recognizes limitations of traditional, congregate service requirements of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The program has traditionally required children to eat meals at a physical location with limited service hours. Prominent hunger action organizations like the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty (BCHP) have recognized the barriers this requirement puts in front of children in locations without easy access to summer meal sites, as well as to sponsoring organizations with a limited number of children to serve. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted these challenges when schools closed, and congregate feeding sites were not an option.
USDA waivers during the pandemic allowed organizations to provide non-congregate options for children. These waivers have proven to be extremely effective, prompting policymakers to propose expanding the scope of service options beyond the pandemic.
Non-congregate nutrition delivery methods proposed in Boozman’s and Leahy’s Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act include the Summer EBT program, which provides direct funds loaded onto an electronic benefit transfer card to families of eligible children during the summer, as well as programs that provide direct delivery of shelf-stable meals to children’s homes. Direct-delivery options like BCHP’s Meals-to-You demonstration project, which Senator Boozman referenced in his floor speech introducing the legislation, are ideal for children in rural areas with limited access to grocery stores. Summer EBT programs have been tested and shown effective in locations without easy access to summer meal sites, but where families live near stores where food can be purchased.
The Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act joins the bipartisan Summer Meals Alternative Relief and Transportation Act (SMART Act) proposed by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) as the latest effort in creating innovative approaches to feeding children who rely on school nutrition programs during the academic year.
“The Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty applauds these efforts by Senators Boozman and Leahy,” said Jeremy Everett, BCHP’s Executive Director. “Traditional, congregate feeding options are effective in many densely populated areas with easy access to summer programs that utilize SFSP. But this is not the geographic reality for many children in our country and moving beyond a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is necessary if we are to fulfill our moral mandate to ensure that every child has access to adequate nutrition.”
The Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty is a capacity-building project that develops and implements strategies to end hunger through policy, education, research, community organizing and community development. BCHP works to increase food security by ensuring that every individual has access to three healthy meals a day, seven days a week. BCHP convenes federal, state and local government stakeholders with non-profits, faith communities and business leaders to create an efficient system of accountability that increases food security in Texas, the United States, and globally. Along with its office located within the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work at Baylor, BCHP has offices located in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen and San Angelo.