Federal policies make Virginia meal programs stronger
Across Virginia’s communities, a collaboration of compassionate and hardworking food banks, school nutrition teams and nonprofits are hard at work every day to help ensure youth in our communities have the food they need to grow, flourish and thrive.
While these local efforts are essential, federal nutrition programs give local groups the resources for expanding access to healthy meals for kids.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, school meal delivery programs and ’Grab and Go’ pickup sites provided all families with safe and effective access points. The programs were made possible by some temporary adjustments to federal policies, and they were wildly successful. It’s time to make those changes permanent.
Now in 2022, it’s crucial long lasting policies are made through Child Nutrition Reauthorization. Reauthorization usually happens every 5 years and provides lawmakers the opportunity to improve and strengthen permanent child nutrition programs to meet the needs of our children. The pandemic has highlighted the efficacy of federal child nutrition programs, because of this Congress needs enact a Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill.
Nutrition Policies Worth Advocating For In Virginia
Expanding Community Eligibility Provision Makes Free School Meals Easier and Efficient.
At the beginning of every school year, letters and meal applications are shared with student households and must be returned for youth to receive free or reduced-price meals at school.
The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows high-need schools to make meals available at no cost to all students. CEP also makes processes easier and streamlined for school staff and families because there’s no paperwork for caregivers. Provisions in the Build Back Better plan would expand CEP eligibility to nearly 400 additional schools in Virginia and connect 300,000 more students with free meals.
Strengthening CEP would mean 60% of Virginia’s student population could receive no -cost meals.
Action: Expand the Community Eligibility Provision through Child Nutrition Reauthorization
Summer is the Hungriest Time of Year for Kids – It Doesn’t Have to be With Permanent Summer EBT
Summer meal sites are found throughout Virginia and serve nourishing meals to students when school is not in session. Even so, a variety of barriers, such as transportation, severe weather and scheduling complications often prevent kids from accessing sites.
The Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (Summer EBT) provides a one-time payment of $375 in the summer to help families cover the cost of food in between school. The investment helps families keep nourishing food in the pantry when the school cafeteria isn’t an option.
6 in 7 eligible kids don’t access the nutrition they need during the summer months.
Action: Make Summer EBT Permanent to Help Nourish Families When School is not in Session
Growth of Child and Adult Care Food Program Outside School and House Settings
Outside of school and home settings low-income children struggle to have access to healthy and nutritious snacks. Unfortunately, during the COVID pandemic, Child and Adult Care Food Program (CAFP) meals and snacks were out of reach for millions of young children in child care.
The expansion of this program in reauthorization would provide: a much-needed afternoon snack or supper for children in full-day child care, streamline access for parents and providers, increase program reimbursements for CACFP providers and sponsors, continued funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s CACFP nutrition education, and extension of the COVID-19 policy by allowing young adults up to 24 years old to be eligible to receive up to three healthy meals at homeless and youth serving shelters.
Action: Congress Must expand CACFP to provide children with nutritious snacks while in Child Care
Non-Congregate Meals Help Summer Sites Reach More Kids
Before the pandemic, summer meal sites were required to serve meals at a defined location, also known as congregate meals. Due to safety concerns, sites and schools were allowed to serve non-congregate meals, meaning parents could pick up meals or organizations could drop off multiple meals at a child’s home. Thanks to this flexibility, Virginia has been able to serve millions of more summer meals.
It’s tough to reach kids with meals during the summer months. Non-congregate meal rules make it a lot easier by breaking down barriers.
Action: Congress Must Make Non-Congregate Meals Permanent in Child Nutrition Reauthorization
Tell Congress to pass the Build Back Better plan today!
Your voice is important. Please help us tell the Senate to step up for Child Nutrition.