Cornyn, Booker Introduce Bill to Increase Low-Income, Rural Students’ Access to Summer Meals


In: All News   Posted 05/12/2021
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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) today introduced the Summer Meals Alternative Relief and Transportation (SMART) Act, which would establish additional food delivery service options for low-income students who live in rural areas and receive meals through the USDA Summer Food Service Program.

“The USDA’s food programs are critical for low-income students, but many children living in rural areas lose access to these nutritious meals once the school year ends,” said Sen. Cornyn. “This legislation would give struggling families in hard-to-reach areas additional options to provide for their children during the summer and builds on previously successful programs.”

“Our nation is grappling with a food and nutrition insecurity crisis that is disproportionately impacting our most vulnerable communities—including those in rural and hard to reach areas,”
said Sen. Booker. “We must develop comprehensive solutions to fix our broken food system and ensure that all children, regardless of zip code or income, have equitable access to nutritious, healthy foods. This bipartisan legislation would build on previously established summer nutrition programs and ensure that all children have equitable access to food and nutritious meals during the summer months.”

Background:

Only 14 percent of children who received free or reduced-price lunch during the school year received meals through the Summer Food Service Program in 2018. Families in rural areas who do not have readily available public transportation, grocery stores that accept electronic benefit transfer (EBT) funds, and other systemic mechanisms important to food security must have multiple options for equitable access to nutrition programs during the summer months.

The SMART Act would establish service options in addition to congregate meals and Summer EBT to help ensure children get the nutrition they need through the USDA Summer Food Service Program. This legislation would direct the USDA to build upon previously successful demonstration projects to ensure children in rural and hard-to-reach areas have access to nutritious meals. The SMART Act would provide technical assistance to up to five states seeking to deliver meals directly to students’ homes by way of traditional mail or other delivery services.

The SMART Act is supported by Feeding Texas, the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, Bread for the World, and Save the Children.