WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — On Thursday, Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), Chair of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight and Department operations, introduced the Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act.
The legislation aims to make all students eligible for free school meals during the 2020-21 school year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Meals would include breakfast, lunch and afterschool snack programs that are provided either in school or through "grab and go" and delivery options.
"We are one of the largest food-producing nations in the world, and yet, children in the United States are still susceptible to experiencing hunger," said Rep. Fudge. "As many school districts move toward distance learning and modified schedules in the fall, we cannot forget about the students who rely on school meals as their only primary source of food and nutrition. I am proud to co-introduce the Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act, which will help streamline meal service for schools across the country and allow children to focus on their education, rather than the uncertainty of where they will get their next meal."
The bill is co-led by House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (VA-03), Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-02) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-05).
According to reports from program directors, school meal programs have faced significant financial losses due to the pandemic, with median estimated losses stretching from $200,000 to $2.35 million per district depending on size.
"the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated our nation's child hunger crisis, created record high unemployment, and caused prolonged economic hardship - leaving many families struggling to cover basic essentials," said Rep. Scott. "The Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act would help address the child hunger crisis, make it easier for schools to operate school meal programs, and provide financial relief to school meal programs that have suffered heavy losses during the pandemic. This legislation will ensure that all children will have access to nutrition during this public health emergency."