Afterschool programs and out-of-school time have received a lot of legislative attention over the past few months. Summer meals in particular have been in the spotlight. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is up for reauthorization soon. Proposed changes to the current act are included in the Summer Meals Act of 2015.
A major focus of the Summer Meals Act is to expand access to free meals during the summer months. According to the Food Research and Action Center’s report, free and reduced-price lunches are provided to approximately 22 million kids during the school year, but only 3.6 million kids receive meals from a summer meals program. The new act would make it easier for organizations to meet guidelines for summer meal federal funding. Currently, a community has to have at least 50 percent of kids qualify for free or reduced-price lunches to be able to participate in a federal summer meal program. The act would lower that line to 40 percent.
In addition, the Summer Meals Act would allow organizations to serve three, rather than two, meals to kids during the summer months. It would also cut down on additional application steps for organizations. Finally, the act would make grants available to help with transportation costs to locations serving summer meals.
As we strive to increase access to afterschool and out-of-school time opportunities, including during the summer months, it’s important that all kids have access to adequate nutrition as well. This ensures that students can be focused and engaged during these programs. We encourage you to follow the reauthorization process and the Summer Meals Act of 2015 over the next several weeks.