During the school year, low-income children have the opportunity to receive free or reduced-priced meals at school—but millions of these same children go hungry during summer break

Senator Murray and Representative Davis today introduced the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act, a common-sense approach to ensure kids don’t lose access to critical nutrition

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate health committee, and U.S. Representative Susan Davis (D-CA, 53rd District) introduced legislation to tackle the silent crisis of child hunger impacting families across the country during the summer months. During the academic year, millions of kids from low-income families are able to get free or reduced-priced meals at school, so they can get the nutrition they need to learn in class. But when school lets out for the summer, many of those same kids lose access to regular meals—and many go without the nutrition they need to live healthy lives. To address this challenge, the members introduced the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act, a bill that would provide families who have children eligible for free and reduced-price school meals with an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card. This EBT card would provide $150, equal to about $60 per month, for each child eligible for free or reduced-price school meals, so the family can purchase groceries to replace the meals that the children would otherwise receive at school. Senator Murray reintroduced the bill—originally introduced in 2014—in the Senate, and Representative Davis introduced companion legislation in the House.

“I’m proud to work with Representative Davis to help make sure that kids aren’t missing out on the vital nutrition they need to grow and learn while they’re away from school during the summer months, which is unfortunately a real issue that impacts too many families in communities across our country,” said Senator Murray. “Anyone who has raised kids or worked with kids understands the African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child”—and this bill is very much in that spirit of caring and commitment to our kids and communities. Making sure children have year-round access to healthy, nutritious meals is an essential component of setting them up for success – at home, in school, and in life – and the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act is a major step toward ensuring our nation’s families have the support they need so that none of our kids is left wondering where their next meal will come from.”

“No child should go hungry and no parent should have to worry about being able to feed their child,” said Representative Susan Davis, a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. “I want to thank Senator Murray for her leadership on the issue of ending summer hunger. This bill builds on a proven and simple solution to filling the meal gap that millions of children face every summer.  Expanding this program will be good for our kids, good for education, and good for the economy.”

“The Stop [Child] Summer Hunger Act would give children access to food and improved nutrition during the long summer vacation, ensuring that children and teens return to school healthy and ready to learn. We endorse the legislation and encourage the Senate and the House to enact this important Act,” added Crystal Weedall FitzSimons, Director of School and Out-of-School Time Programs at the Food Research and Action Center.

The Stop Child Summer Hunger Act expands on the successful Summer EBT for Children demonstration project that has been piloted in 14 sites and 10 states and Indian Tribal Organizations. This pilot had positive results, decreasing hunger among children by 33 percent.

An existing federal program, the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) attempts to fill the summer meals gap by providing funding to nonprofit, government, and religious entities to serve food in congregate settings to low-income children during summer breaks. However, while some areas of the country see great success with the SFSP, many barriers to participation in the program remain, including unfamiliarity with the program or sites, lack of transportation, and limited food distribution hours. According to the Food Research and Action Center, in July 2017 three million children ate lunch on an average weekday at a summer meal site—only a fraction of the 20 million low-income children who participate in school lunch each day during the school year. Much of the low participation is due to limited public funding available to support summer programs for low-income children to attend, and as a result, children in Washington state and around the country are more likely to be hungry during the summer. The Stop Child Summer Hunger Act, in conjunction with the SFSP, would ensure that children across the country don’t go hungry when school is out. 

Read the bill text HERE.

Read a one-pager on the Stop Child Summer Act HERE.

More about the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act HERE.