WASHINGTON – This week, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) joined the Committee on Education and Labor to advance the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act, an evidence-driven proposal to reduce child hunger through federal child nutrition programs. The legislative package would reauthorize and update federal child nutrition programs by investing in school meal programs, modernizing the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), addressing food insecurity during the summer, improving school meal capacity and sustainability, and strengthening the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

“Hunger among children remains a persistent and alarming issue which demands immediate action. In Connecticut, one in eight children face food insecurity. Hungry kids cannot learn or thrive. The Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act will begin to address systemic barriers and reduce inequities to nutritious foods in our communities” said Congresswoman Hayes.

The Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act contains original legislation led by Congresswoman Hayes including:

  • WIC for Kids Act: Expands automatic eligibility for families participating in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, & Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and connects more children to feed when they need it most.  
  • Scratch Meals for Students Act: Creates a federal grant program for school districts to implement scratch cooking or farm-to-school meals and provide more students with fresh, nutritious foods. 
  • School Hunger Elimination Act: Removes bureaucratic barriers and directly certifies income-eligible students into the National School Lunch Program. 
  • Stop Child Hunger Act: Provides children who rely on free and reduced-price school meals during the school year with an EBT card when school is not in session, like during summer break, to ensure there is no lapse in nutritious meals.

“I am thankful this bill incorporates several of my bills to feed more students in schools and improve nutrition supports for vulnerable families in the final package. Hunger is not only a policy failure; it is a moral failure that leaves educators, neighbors, and communities to fill in the gaps. As we prepare for the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, I will continue my work to address hunger in this country,” continued Congresswoman Hayes.

Specifically, the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act will:

  • Expand access to school meals by expanding the Community Eligibility Provision so more school districts can provide free meals and ensuring children on Medicaid are automatically certified for free school meals.
  • Preserve the future of school meal programs by increasing the reimbursement rate for lunch by 10 cents and providing commodity support to the School Breakfast Program. 
  • Modernize the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) by expanding WIC eligibility to age six, improving access to telehealth to reduce the physical presence requirement, and expanding the Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program to ensure more mothers have access to breastfeeding support.
  • Address food insecurity during the summer by authorizing the Summer EBT Program at $75 per month per child for eligible households, lowering the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) area eligibility threshold so sites can serve more low- to middle-income neighborhoods, and increasing access to summer feeding through transportation assistance and mobile meal delivery.
  • Improve school meal capacity and sustainability by providing grants to purchase kitchen equipment, supporting farm to school programs, and incentivizing scratch cooking. 
  • Strengthen the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) by providing reimbursement for an additional meal or snack per child, allowing children in households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to be automatically eligible for CACFP, and expanding food access for those experiencing homelessness or in emergency shelters by increasing the eligible age of reimbursement for these individuals from 18 to 25.

 For a section-by-section summary of the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act, click here.