FEATURED:

Bill would extend child nutrition programs to Indian tribes

Bill would extend child nutrition programs to Indian tribes
© Getty Images

Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation Tuesday to extend federal child nutrition assistance programs to children in Native American tribes.

Sens. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallWHIP LIST: Shutdown looms as Senate lacks votes to pass House spending bill Dems harden line on stopgap measure Overnight Finance: Shutdown drama grips Capitol | White House backs short-term spending bill | Mulvaney begins consumer bureau shake-up MORE (D-N.M.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrat Manchin: Pence attacks prove ‘they don't want bipartisanship’ in Trump admin Tester invited the Border Patrol Union’s president to the State of the Union. What does that say to Dreamers?   These Democrats will have a hard time keeping their seats in 2018 MORE (D-Mont.), along with Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), unveiled the Tribal Nutrition Improvement Act of 2015 to allow tribes to participate in federal programs that help supply children with nutritious foods.

They include the school breakfast and lunch programs, the Summer Food Service Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program, which serves children in at-risk after school programs, at child care centers, in home day care and emergency shelters, as well as adults in adult day care centers.

The lawmakers said Native American children suffer from food insecurity and obesity at rates twice the national average. To address that problem, their bill would add federally recognized Indian Tribes to the list of governments authorized to administer the programs. Tribes now must go through state agencies for assistance.

“Native American kids are at a disadvantage without access to healthy, well-rounded meals,” Tester said in a statement. “We can’t expect them to do their best if they’re hungry or lacking proper nutrition.”

Tribal and community organizations like the National Congress of American Indians and New Mexico Appleseed have endorsed the bill.

“One of the most difficult issues facing American Indians and Alaska Natives is food security,” Jacqueline Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, said in a release. “For many of our Native youth, the meals they receive at school are sometimes the only food they have access to on a consistent basis.”