WASHINGTON, July 30, 2020 – Today, the Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act was introduced in response to the growing issue of food insecurity among school children. Because of COVID-19, an increasing number of households are facing various disruptions including high unemployment rates, disparate health outcomes, and uncertainty regarding what school will be like in the fall. This legislation will address at least one uncertainty: whether or not children will go hungry. Under the Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act, free meals (breakfast and lunch) would be provided to ALL school students for the 2020-2021 school year through the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), regardless of their geography or socioeconomic status.
The Urban School Food Alliance (USFA) strongly supports the introduction of the Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act, and believes it is imperative that meal programs are continued and expanded. We are grateful to the House Education and Labor Committee and Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) for their leadership and action to protect the children of our nation.
We have seen Universal Free Meal programs work successfully because they reduce the administrative burden on districts by taking away any sort of restrictions and need for waivers. All students are automatically provided with nutritional meals filled with necessary fruits, vegetables and whole grains scientifically proven for academic success. These meals are given regardless of students’ background, just like any other school service or resource, which helps eliminate lunch shaming and the stigma attached to school meal programs.
It is our duty to educate communities and government officials about the importance of school meals in the education system. With millions of parents out of work, an increase in food insecurity nationally and schools operating at varying capacities, this upcoming school year presents a prime opportunity to address the pressing issue of access to food through Universal Free Meals. We believe the Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act will bolster the best safety net to assist in eliminating the issue of hungry children in the United States.