Tell Congress: Close the summer hunger gap

Federal safety-net programs like the free- and reduced-price lunch program helps keep families out of poverty. Photo by Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World

By Eric Mitchell

It’s still winter, but when it comes to hunger, planning ahead and thinking about summer is necessary.

Many low-income children receive free or reduced-priced meals at school to keep hunger at bay. But what happens when school isn’t in session? For every six low-income children who receive lunch during the school year, only one also receives any meals during summer.

Call (800/826-3688) or email your senators and representative today. Urge Congress to prioritize programs that ensure children are fed all year long.

Last week, the president sent his budget request to Congress. It included a proposal to permanently expand the summer electronic benefit transfer (EBT) program. This program provides a debit-like card to families in hard-to-reach areas to purchase groceries during summer months if their children receive free or reduced-price school meals.

Pilot projects have demonstrated that this program is extremely effective and decreases severe food insecurity by up to one-third. The president’s budget request would make this pilot program permanent and expand it to all 50 states over the next ten years.

This would dramatically reduce the summer hunger gap. It would not only ensure children have the nutrition they need year-round, but will also allow all children to experience a summer of learning and play – not one of hunger.

Congress needs to hear from you! Tell your senators and representative that connecting more children with the healthy meals they need to learn and grow should be a top budget priority.

Eric Mitchell is director of government relations at Bread for the World.

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