Addressing access to school meals across the country as protections expire
During the 2022 legislative session, the Children’s Campaign supported efforts led by Hunger Free Colorado to ensure all Colorado students continue to receive free school meals once the pandemic’s emergency waivers expire. The passage of HB22-1414 refers a ballot measure to Colorado voters in November which would fund a program to reimburse every meal served by a participating school district, support the ability of schools to purchase healthy, local food, and ensure fair wages to frontline food service employees. However, the November election is still several months away – and the current waivers ensuring our kids have access to the food they need to thrive are set to expire June 30. For now, federal action is needed to preempt the potentially widespread negative impacts of this abrupt end to what has become a vital pandemic support for our kids.
Congress is currently considering several pieces of legislation, including the bipartisan Keep Kids Fed Act. This bill would ensure that children don’t have to worry about where their next meal will come from, and that the school meals they receive are nutritious. School meals are the healthiest source of calories for children and continue to be a lifeline for students and families – proving throughout the pandemic that despite economic hardships, supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, and school day structure changes, schools have continued to effectively fight off food and nutrition insecurity. With protections set to expire as soon as next Thursday, Congress needs to take action to ensure 30 million children don’t lose access to school meals.
Healthy school meals are critical to ensure that children are set to succeed and thrive , but that can’t happen if the programs cannot operate. Congress must extend waiver authority to grant our current school meal programs the flexibility they need to ease the abrupt transition of these protections’ expiration; pass legislation that would expand the Community Eligibility Provision and Summer EBT program to keep kids fed during the summer months; and pass a child nutrition reauthorization that protects and strengthens nutrition standards setting our kids up for future success. Contact your federal representatives today to let them know the importance of Healthy School Meals for All for the kids and families in your community! Congress is actively discussing this given the current waivers’ looming expiration date of June 30 – and your voice matters to them!