Sign-On Letter Supporting the 2019 Legislation to Improve and Strengthen the Summer Meals Program
We the undersigned are pleased to support new, bipartisan legislation including the Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act of 2019 introduced by Sens. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act of 2019 introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and the Summer Meals Act of 2019 introduced by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Together, these bills will strengthen and streamline the federal summer meals programs, allowing them to reach more eligible children who need access to summer nutrition.

The summer months are the hungriest time of year for low-income children. Currently, only a fraction (16%) of eligible children who participate in free or reduced price meal programs during the school year are participating in summer meals; we can do better and must do more to make sure low-income children are receiving the nutrition they need to grow up healthy and strong.

The federal Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) was designed to ensure low-income children have access to meals when school is out. For millions of children, however, the barriers they face reaching summer feeding sites are insurmountable - lack of transportation, safety concerns, extreme weather and red tape block many kids from accessing these meals. In rural communities, where kids are dispersed over large distances, these barriers are particularly acute.

These bills would strengthen the summer meals program and complement current summer feeding sites by providing states with the policy solutions they need to reach underserved children, such as: Summer EBT, allowing off-site consumption of meals, and streamlining existing meal programs to reduce duplication and administrative burdens. Together, these policies will help to ensure that no matter where children live, they will have equitable access to the nutrition they need to thrive during the summer months.

We urge Congress to end summer hunger by making the Summer Meals Program a top priority in a Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill.
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