GardenShare

GardenShare

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Federal Child Nutrition programs due for reauthorization

Every five years, Congress must reauthorize child nutrition programs. During this process, Congress will debate new funding levels, ways to strengthen and improve the programs, and develop new policies to make sure our nation’s children have access to healthy, nutritious food. The current bill, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, is set to expire on September 30, 2015. Next year, the following programs are up for renewal:
The Summer Food Service Program: Provides free meals and snacks to low-income children during the summer months.
Child and Adult Care Food Program: Provides nutritious meals and snacks to children and adults in designated child and adult care centers, as well as snacks and suppers to children in afterschool programs.
WIC: Provides nutritious foods and nutrition education for low-income, at risk women, infants.
National School Lunch and Breakfast programs: Provides nutritionally balanced meals to qualified children each school day.
(Source: Feeding America, 9/14, Child Nutrition Programs)
This is an important conversation for all of us at GardenShare and in the communities of St. Lawrence County to engage in.  According to Hunger Solutions New York, in the 2011-12 school year, 8,188 students in St. Lawrence County were eligible for a free or reduced-price breakfast at school, but only 3,526 or 43% of those eligible were taking part.  In the 2012-13 school year, the situation got worse.  A few less students were eligible - 8,092, but even fewer of them, 3,382 or 42% were eating breakfast at school.
Hunger Solutions NY has set a goal of having 70% of the children who are eligible for a free or reduced-price breakfast at school actually get this meal.  If we accomplished this goal in St. Lawrence County, it would bring an additional $168,565.62 in federal reimbursements for these meals into our county!  More important, an additional 652 children would get a healthy breakfast every day of the school year!
In addition, the Summer Food Service Program provides meals for these children that get free breakfast and lunch during the shool year while school is out in the summer.  In the summer of 2013, there were only five sites in St. Lawrence County for children to get these meals - in Brasher Falls, Edwards, Gouverneur, Massena, and Potsdam.  I'm not sure how low-income families in Canton, Ogdensburg, or the many smaller communities throughout the County ensure that their children have healthy food during the summer.
These are among the issues I will be digging further into in the coming months and I invite participation in these conversations from interested parents, school officials, and citizens.
After all, if we can't make sure our communities' children get healthy meals, what kind of civilization are we?
Gloria