Biden seeks full-scale summer food program for children

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.

Child-hunger advocates hope Biden’s expansion of P-EBT becomes a permanent solution to summer food needs

The Agriculture Department on Tuesday announced plans to launch the most significant summer food program in U.S. history, expanding a pandemic-era benefit to feed more than 30 million children over the summer break. Now, anti-hunger advocates are hoping to leverage the expansion into a permanent summer benefits program, a longstanding goal that would fill a gap in food access when school is out.(No paywall)

As schools reopen, the fight over nutrition standards resumes, with salt and sugar still in the crosshairs

School nutrition standards haven’t been updated since 2010, when the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act — former First Lady Michelle Obama’s overhaul of school nutrition standards that mandated more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and reduced sodium — was passed. As Congress moves forward with a long-overdue Child Nutrition Reauthorization, lawmakers and advocates are sparring over what changes, if any, should be made to the food kids eat at school.(No paywall)

Lessons from the pandemic: Broaden child nutrition, be flexible on rules

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.

Stabenow, Boozman urge Congress to make child nutrition a priority this year

Debbie Stabenow, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and John Boozman, the committee’s ranking Republican, said on Thursday that Congress should apply the lessons learned during the pandemic to strengthen and expand key child nutrition policies this year. (No paywall)

USDA: Student participation in school meal programs dropped by a third last year

Student participation in school meal programs dropped 30 percent in the first nine months of the pandemic, according to new USDA data, leaving kids without meals amid acute rates of food insecurity and draining the programs of critical revenue.

USDA extends school-meal waivers through September

The USDA said Tuesday that it will extend a series of waivers to school meal programs through Sept. 30, as the pandemic hits its one-year mark and ongoing school closures continue to exacerbate food insecurity among low-income children. (No paywall)

FRAC says free school breakfast is crucial to addressing hunger, academic performance

Nearly a year into the pandemic, school closures have taken a harsh toll on American kids. Virtual classes have left many behind academically, and losing access to school meals has increased child hunger across the country, as replacement programs have failed to meet rising need. As children return to the classroom, school breakfasts will be critical in both curbing hunger and improving academic outcomes, according to the Food Research & Action Center’s (FRAC) annual Breakfast Scorecard, which was released today.

Few states ready for Biden expansion of P-EBT

Two days after taking office, President Biden directed the USDA to boost benefits by 15 percent in the P-EBT program for school-age children in low-income families, and to include children under the age of 6 in P-EBT. The expansion would aid millions of children, but only eight states are approved for P-EBT for this school year, which started months ago.

Pandemic leads to highest SNAP enrollment in three years

Food stamp enrollment has surged by 6 million people since the pandemic hit the United States, said the USDA on Wednesday in its first update of SNAP participation in months. Some 42.9 million people received food stamps at latest count, the highest number since October 2017.