Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) joined a group of 111 Members of Congress, led by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Congressman Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), in calling on House leaders to strengthen nutrition programs in the child nutrition reauthorization—the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016—rather than enact misguided changes that would hurt children’s access to nutritious meals, as the legislation currently does.
The legislation includes detrimental changes to the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (Summer EBT) program, the school meals verification process, and nutrition standards that would cause too many children, especially low-income children and children of color, to lose access to vital programs and healthier meals.
“The Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 would unacceptably raise the qualifying threshold for the Community Eligibility Provision from 40 percent to 60 percent. To say this change would be detrimental would be an understatement,” Members wrote in the letter. “Raising the threshold to 60 percent would lead to far fewer schools qualifying for the program and more low-income children going hungry every day. According to CBPP and FRAC, if this bill becomes law, 7,022 schools now using community eligibility would have to reinstate applications and return to monitoring eligibility in the lunch line within two years. Another 11,647 schools that qualify for community eligibility, but have not yet adopted it, would automatically lose eligibility.”
“Gutting sodium standards, blocking scientific evidence from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and allowing junk food to be counted as an acceptable snack would undermine our children’s health and their future. We know that the 2010 standards have allowed our nation to make meaningful reforms to its core child nutrition programs. It is imperative that we continue to improve school nutrition and the hunger safety net for millions of children because hunger and under-nourishment prevent our kids from reaching their full potential, both physically and academically,” Members continued.
The full letter is available here.