McConnell Cosponsors Bill to Help Reduce Child Hunger

Legislation would help children in rural areas by making existing nutrition programs more flexible and effective

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joined Senator John Boozman (R-AR) in introducing The Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act to inject additional flexibility and choice into existing federal child nutrition programs, which would allow states to better ensure that children in rural areas are not treated unfairly when school is out of session.    

“Washington’s inflexible, one-size fits all approach is failing vulnerable children in rural states like Kentucky. During the summer months — when busses may not be operating and parents may not have the means to transport students long distances — children in rural areas can face significant hurdles accessing the same school meals that children in more urban areas might not. The Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act would help end this unfair situation by providing states with the flexibility they need to implement summer meal delivery programs that better serve children in hard-to-reach areas.” Senator McConnell said. “This bill would deliver greater fairness to Kentucky’s most vulnerable children by making existing school meal programs more effective, more accountable, and more flexible.”

The Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act would authorize the Department of Agriculture to establish two alternative options for program delivery for summer meals:

  • Authorize summer meal providers to deliver to eligible children in rural and hard to reach communities, allowing for meal distribution flexibility if a delivery site is unexpectedly closed due to inclement weather or other conditions.
  • Provide eligible households with an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card each month over summer break with a value of $30 per child, allowing families to purchase nutritious food items from retail food stores approved for participation.

Tamara Sandberg, the Executive Director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks said her organization enthusiastically supports the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act. “We are grateful for Senator McConnell's leadership on this issue. The bill would help Kentucky food banks and our partners overcome some of the barriers we face when trying to serve children in the summer months when school meals are unavailable.  We believe this greater flexibility in how we reach kids in the summer could help us close the summer hunger gap in our state: only one in 13 low-income children in Kentucky who needs summer meals is receiving them.”

Brian Riendeau, the executive director of Dare to Care Food Bank, applauded Senator McConnell for his leadership on this very important issue, “In our area only 15 percent of children eligible for summer nutrition programs are able to access them. Senator McConnell’s proposal gives Dare to Care and our partners new and critical flexibility to develop creative ways to reach these kids.” 

Billy Shore, founder and CEO of Share Our Strength, a national anti-hunger organization, thanked Senator McConnell for supporting this bill, saying, “When our children get the food they need during the summer, it affects everything from their brain development to their graduation rates to their overall health. And when we have stronger children, we have a stronger, more competitive America.”