Washington, D.C. – Last week, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the School Hunger Elimination Act, legislation to improve the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast program (SBP). More than 11 million children across the country are food insecure, and ensuring access to school meals is essential to combat hunger in schools. This legislation would significantly increase access to school meals through expanded eligibility for free meals, decreased administrative work, improved program integrity and reduced school meal debt.
School nutrition programs are essential to addressing food insecurity. Missing meals and experiencing hunger can limit school performance and impair behavior at school. Further, hunger and food insecurity among children results in higher risk of behavioral, mental and social disorders.
The School Hunger Elimination Act makes much needed improvements to direct certification, community eligibility and retroactive reimbursements, which will expand access to healthy meals and drastically help reduce hunger in schools.
“It is simply unacceptable that more than 11 million children across the country lack consistent access to enough food to sustain active and healthy lives. When students are hungry in the classroom their ability to concentrate decreases, academic performance declines and behavioral issues surge,” said Senator Casey. “The School Hunger Elimination Act takes significant steps to address this problem by expanding access to the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. These programs are vital in ensuring dependable access to nutritious foods for children who struggle with food insecurity.”
"The School Hunger Elimination Act will increase the number of high-need schools that are able to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students, and will help make sure that children from low-income households are easily connected to free school meals,” said Jim Weill, president, Food Research & Action Center. “FRAC is proud to support a bill to help ensure that children are well-nourished and ready to learn.”
Specifically, the School Hunger Elimination Act of 2019 would:
- Directly certify all school-age children receiving Medicaid
- Expand mandatory direct certification
- Increase the community eligibility reimbursement multiplier from 1.6 to 1.8
- Allow community eligibility school groupings across districts
- Expand the timeline for retroactive reimbursements
Read more about the School Hunger Elimination Act of 2019 here.