Pushing for Action on Child Nutrition
Ending childhood hunger
The legislation governing federal child nutrition programs will expire September 30, increasing the pressure on Congress to finish a reauthorized five-year bill. The law covers school lunch and breakfast, summer feeding programs, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)—programs benefiting tens of millions of low-income children.
During Bread for the World’s Lobby Day on June 15, a group of 20 Christian leaders and hunger advocates met with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The main message from the discussion: Even in the United States, nearly one in four children is at risk of hunger—and we must do something about it.
Meeting with the group around a table symbolically spread with five loaves of bread and two fish, Secretary Vilsack said he sees the biblical story of the feeding of the multitude as a miracle of overcoming the fear of sharing.
Bread President David Beckmann said that Vilsack urged participants to get their churches involved in child nutrition reauthorization and other policy issues that affect hungry people.
Later in June, Vilsack mentioned the meeting during his testimony on child nutrition reauthorization before the House Education and Labor Committee. Noting the moral imperative of addressing child hunger, he said that there is “no more important role or responsibility I have than what I’m talking about here today,” and he urged Congress to pass a bill this year.
The House Education and Labor Committee has not yet scheduled a discussion and vote on the legislation, but as Bread went to press, it appeared that this might happen quickly. Please visit www.bread.org for updated information on child nutrition reauthorization, including our strategy to engage fiscally conservative members of Congress who have consistently opposed spending increases this year.
The Senate Agriculture Committee approved a child nutrition bill in April, but it has not yet come to the full Senate.