Congress Has The Opportunity to Deliver Progress on Child Nutrition Programs

Every five years, Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) provides Congress with an opportunity to improve and strengthen the child nutrition and school meal programs. The last time Congress successfully passed a CNR was in 2010 with the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-296). This bill technically expired on September 30, 2015, but even without the passage of a new reauthorization, the programs that fall within its purview continue to operate as originally passed. 

In 2021, Congress again has the chance to pass a bill that can improve the health of millions of our nation’s children by passing a strong reauthorization bill that strengthens and expands the child nutrition program.

Empower Missouri in conjunction with the Food Research and Action Center and its many state partners across the country took part in a virtual week of action last week. Empower Missouri and some of our partners in Missouri talked with key staff in the offices of our members of Congress and encouraged them to support the provisions in both the American’s Families Plan as well as in the Child Nutrition Reauthorization that will improve and strengthen many of the child nutrition programs. 

A few of the key provisions that Empower Missouri and our advocate partners advocated for last week week include: 

  • Expanding the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer Program to all students that are eligible to receive free meals during the school year. This provides families with a monthly benefit on an EBT card that they can use to purchase food for their families while kids are home from school in the summer. 
  • Increasing investment in Out of School Time Programs: Increasing the reach of summer meals programs, streamlining operations to reduce unnecessary red tape, building upon the success of PEBT program by developing a wide reaching Summer EBT Program, and reaching more children through increasing alternative delivery models.
  • Making changes to the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP): Allowing for CACFP to provide afternoon snacks and suppers for full day childcare, streamlining access to reduce red tape and increase participation, improving area eligibility to reach child care providers in more rural and low income areas, and increasing reimbursements for providers.
  • Strengthening the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs: Expanding community eligibility to allow for more schools to be able to offer free meals to all students and allowing for more direct certification of students to reduce paperwork and increase access.
  • Increasing access to the Supplemental Nutrition Program from Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program: Extending certification periods and allowing for enrollment of children until age 6, continuing to allow for remote enrollment and remote services, and expanding research in underserved communities in the hopes of increased participation in the program. 

We encourage each of you to also reach out to Senator Blunt, Senator Hawley and your member of Congress to encourage their support for these important provisions that will have lasting impacts on the lives of Missouri’s children. 

In Solidarity, 

Christine Woody
Senior Policy and Organizing Coordinator

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