RICHMOND, Va. – Today, lawmakers on Capitol Hill introduced bipartisan provisions to improve and expand federal nutrition programs that help fight child hunger in the summer. The Federation of Virginia Food Banks commends Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and John Boozman, R-Ark., for negotiating these provisions, which will create a nationwide Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) grocery card program and significantly increase access to summer meals, particularly for children in rural communities across the Commonwealth. These critical anti-hunger provisions have been added to the fiscal year 2023 omnibus spending bill, which also includes important annual funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and other anti-hunger programs.
When schools close their doors for the summer, millions of children lose access to their only reliable source of nutritious meals. For decades, child nutrition programs have played a critical role in safeguarding our nation’s children against hunger—but the programs are only as effective as their ability to reach children in need. In 2019, approximately 80% of children who were eligible for summer meals did not access them. While these critical investments come with the disappointing early sunsetting of temporary COVID pandemic relief programs, they represent a historic step forward in closing the summer hunger gap for children in Virginia.
“These provisions are historic investments in our efforts to end childhood hunger in Virginia and across the nation,” said Eddie Oliver, Executive Director of the Federation. “Food banks and other service providers have struggled for decades to meet the increased need among young families during the summer when they lose access to school meals. This bill contains proven solutions that will dramatically improve access to the nutrition kids need to grow and thrive.”
The Federation calls on Congress to strengthen summer nutrition programs for our nation’s children by passing the omnibus.
About The Federation of Virginia Food Banks
The Federation of Virginia Food Banks supports the seven regional Virginia/Washington DC food banks in building partnerships, securing resources, sharing data and raising awareness of food insecurity throughout the Commonwealth. Working together as the largest hunger-relief network in the Commonwealth, Virginia’s seven regional food banks distributed 199 million pounds of food through 1,340 agency partners in 2021. Collectively, we serve approximately 1 million people on an annual basis. For additional information, please visit vafoodbanks.org, find us on Facebook and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.