Renew, improve Child Nutrition Act
By Ellen Fisher on July 13, 2009
© The Gazette
Too many kids are hungry. Even before the financial crisis, more than one in six Iowa youth (nearly 125,000) lived in families who struggled to provide food. Very few students who receive free or reducedprice school meals are served by summer nutrition programs, so vacation becomes a hunger season.
Hunger decreases attention span, lowers test scores and increases aggression, anxiety, depression and illness.
The Child Nutrition Act must be reauthorized by Congress before Sept. 30 and should be strengthened to increase the number of children served. One option is expanding the Philadelphia program that provides a free lunch to all students in low-income schools ("A universal approach to free lunch," Gazette, July 6). Another option is increasing summer SNAP benefits (formerly food stamps) to children who lack access to summer nutrition sites. A third is expanding direct certification so children enrolled in Medicaid or SNAP are automatically enrolled in school meals.
Rep. Dave Loebsack and Sens. Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin all serve on the congressional committees with jurisdiction for this bill. Iowans should urge them to increase program access and participation among eligible, low-income children. Our children need not go hungry.