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Congress can unite over food

It seems like Democrats and Republicans never agree on anything. But think again. They are finding common ground over food. And it could make a huge difference for America.

When Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) recently signed on to the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act of 2015, he found allies from across the aisle. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) joined him. So did Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). From his party Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) were among the first to join Brown.

Democrats and Republicans are rallying to end child hunger. It’s a huge crisis with nearly 16 million children suffering from hunger in America.

During  Brown’s teleconference in June, it was described how a child was seen digging through the trash for food.  
We need to take action against hunger. It cannot be half measures either. A key starting point is the summer hunger crisis that strikes America each year.

During the school year children from low-income families are able to receive free lunches. It’s called the National School Lunch Program. 
The free school lunches are a huge boost to needy families.

The food helps children fight off hunger so they can learn. Like President Truman said, “No nation is any healthier than its children.” The National School Lunch Program has fought hunger in America for decades.

But when summer comes, the schools close. No longer is the free lunch available. Summer feeding sites are set up, but these cannot fill in the gap. They don’t even come close.

According to Feeding America, “While the summer meal program is a critical support for millions of families, most low-income children – 82 percent of those receiving free and reduced price lunch during the school year – are not receiving summer meals. Barriers include transportation and a lack of accessible sites.”

The Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act (S. 1966), if passed, can change this. It will give needy families 30 dollars a month with an electronic benefits transfer  (EBT) card. This will allow for food purchases to make up for the lost school meals during the summer months.

Think about a child living in a rural part of the country, not even close to a summer feeding site. Their family, even with employment, is struggling to get by because of low wages.

Obviously, sending their child to school and getting a free lunch is a huge boost during the year. They should not lose that help during the summer.  

The Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act of 2015 will keep it going, providing the EBT card so the family can purchase food for the child during June, July, August. It will be like having the school meals at home during the summer. The use of the EBT card to purchase the food will also help local stores with extra sales.

Children who are fed can grow and learn rather than suffer in hunger. The lack of nutrition has long term consequences for children and society. You are throwing away a country’s future when you ignore child hunger.

But Congress can take action to stop child hunger.  They have the opportunity to pass the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act of 2015.

The Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act of 2015 is a major step for ending hunger in America. The Congress should pass this bill and help the nation’s children. Food is the fuel for America’s future.

Lambers is the author of Ending World Hunger. He is a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.

Tags Joe Donnelly John Boozman Mark Kirk Michael Bennet Mitch McConnell Sherrod Brown
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