When it reauthorizes child nutrition programs, Congress should provide meals for free to all students at public schools and offer financial assistance to low-income parents to buy food for their school-age children during the summer and holidays, activists said at a House hearing on Thursday.
The Biden administration withdrew a Trump-era proposal on Wednesday to tighten eligibility rules for food stamps and reduce SNAP enrollment by 3.1 million people. It was the second major Trump SNAP regulation to founder under the new administration. Both would have restricted access to SNAP benefits.
Democratic lawmakers announced companion House and Senate bills on Wednesday to give low-income parents money to buy food for their school-age children during the summer and when schools are closed during other parts of the year.
The USDA said Thursday it would buy $159.4 million worth of U.S.-produced seafood, nuts, fruits, and vegetables for its public nutrition programs, including donations to charity. The deal includes the agency's single largest purchase of seafood ever.
Building on P-EBT benefits created in response to the coronavirus, President Biden proposed a vast expansion of the USDA's summer food program on Wednesday that would be available to the 22 million children who eat school meals for free or at a reduced price. The White House also called for expanding a program that provides free school meals to all children in high-poverty neighborhoods.
The Trump administration's much-criticized food box will be replaced for the moment by a $400 million dairy donation initiative and fresh produce distributed through a longstanding USDA program, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday.
Hunger in the United States has dropped to its lowest level of the yearlong pandemic, according to Census Bureau data released on Wednesday. Analysts credited government stimulus checks, increased federal food assistance, and the economic recovery for the sharp improvement.
The government should permanently adopt the innovations of the pandemic that made school meals available when classrooms were idle and allowed WIC interviews by phone and video rather than requiring applicants to appear in person, said Senate Agriculture chairwoman Debbie Stabenow on Thursday.
The USDA ought to keep President Trump's glitzy food box giveaway program in operation rather than let it die at the end of April, said Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee on Thursday. A food bank leader said that while the food box had been helpful in responding to pandemic-caused hunger, it was not as useful as programs like SNAP.