We got word that Congress may be drafting language for the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill. The current legislation expires September 30 of this year – at that point Congress needs to have either enacted new legislation or pass a continuing resolution for the included programs to continue operation.
Our previous blog post outlined the programs included in this huge bill, and we now have our priorities ready! Now in our fourth year of operating Kids Café, we have learned a lot about the summer and after school meal programs and these experiences have greatly informed our top two priorities:
- Currently summer and after school meals are administered as two totally separate federal programs requiring two of everything – applications, monitoring, contracts, meal requirements. For many organizations this is a huge administrative burden and one that can be insurmountable with limited resources. Providing an option to run these programs as one with consistent requirements would make a huge difference.
- For summer meals, kids are required to stay on site to eat any of the food provided. There are two problems with this; first, they can’t take any of the food home with them for later if they get full. Second, in communities where there are not good gathering spots or it is difficult for kids to get to a central location it becomes nearly impossible to provide meals. There are a number of options that could address this issue including Senator Murray’s Summer EBT proposal.