On Wednesday, January 20 the Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to take up a child nutrition bill that it is hoped will strengthen and expand a number of services that effect food access for children and their families. The meeting can be viewed at that time at that time through the Senate website at www.ag.senate.gov.

Child nutrition programs have been the focus of some intensive discussions between the parties and committees and it is hoped that they can get the job done soon.  Last year there was optimism for September action but time ran out and it has been left for this short session of Congress.  Several bipartisan bills were released last year and it is hoped that many of the provisions can been enacted by spring.  Among the bills:

  • The Summer Meals Act of 2015, S. 613, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and H.R. 1728 in the House by Congressman Don Young (R-AK) and Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA).  The bill makes improvements in the summer food program by simplifying its administration and expand its coverage.
  • The Stop Child Summer Hunger Act of 2015, S. 1539, sponsored by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and a companion bill in the House, H.R. 2715, by Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA) that would use electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card technology to simplify access for the summer to purchase food. Summer nutrition programs are critical to many low income families since schools are out.
  • The Access to Healthy Food for Young Children Act of 2015, S. 1833, was introduced late last summer by Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) and it provides important improvements to the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) that has a big impact on child care programs.

The House also has a bipartisan bill, the Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act, H.R. 3886, sponsored by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY). There are several other bills that could affect child nutrition including children in tribal lands and communities (the Tribal Nutrition Act, S. 1937 and H.R. 3502.)

The CACFP is a critical care care support because it assists over 3.4 million children daily in child care centers, family care homes, and after-school programs. It extends to nearly 55,000 child care centers; and approximately 128,000 family child care providers working with 848 sponsors use CACFP to provide children with high quality nutrition and learning experiences.  It also extends to adult care by covering over 118,000 persons in Adult Day Care.  For advocacy and action steps in support of these child nutrition programs go to the Food Action Research Center (FRAC) legislative center.