More than 15 million children in the U.S. are food insecure. Nearly 400,000 of them live in New Jersey.
For many of these hungry kids, the food they receive at school is the most they consume all day.
Federal nutrition support for children includes the National school lunch, school breakfast, and summer and after-school meal programs. Close to 450,000 New Jersey students receive free or reduced price lunch every day. That is why Child Nutrition Reauthorization is so important.
Every five years, Congress must review these programs. On Jan. 20, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry unanimously approved bipartisan legislation – the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016 – and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey commends its work.
“Enhancements that streamline the paperwork will help our community organizations who feed children year-round save time and encourage others to expand programming,” said Diane Riley, CFBNJ Director of Advocacy, about the adjustments in the bill.
She also highlighted the additions to summer feeding programs.
“Alternative options for serving children during the summer, such as EBT cards and non-congregate feeding methods, will improve access for children across the country in areas where summer meals are underutilized,” Riley added. “In New Jersey, 81 percent of the state’s eligible children are not being reached.”
Child Nutrition Reauthorization makes a difference to students in many ways.
Kids need proper nutrition to focus in school. And, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a lack of adequate nutrition can lead to behavioral and emotional problems.
“Children typically consume up to half of their daily calories in school,” the AAP reported. “For many children living in poverty, school meals may be the only food they eat all day.”
And, because schools are learning hubs, providing nutritious options will instill students with healthy eating habits.
The FoodBank applauds the progress made for Child Nutrition Reauthorization. We look forward to how it will improve the access to and quality of school meals for students, especially for those in food insecure households.
Now that the Senate committee has supported the bill, it needs to pass through Congress.