When schools close for the summer, millions of kids who rely on school lunches go hungry. Luckily, the Senate is working on legislation that would make it easier for kids to get reliable, nutritious meals during the summer. Tell your senators to invest in kids and end summer hunger!
Feeding America and Houston Food Bank are focused on ensuring children have access to the meals they need to thrive both in and out of school. Ensuring strong participation in summer meals, after-school programs, weekend backpacks and school breakfast and lunch programs is important to the health of millions of children.
We continue to urge your members of Congress to support these bi-partisan bills:
The Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act of 2019 (S.1918) by Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and John Hoeven (R-ND) makes it easier for kids to access meals if they are not able to get to a summer site.
The Summer Meals Act of 2019 (S.1908) by Senators Gillibrand (D-NY) and Murkowski (R-AK) improves access to summer meal sites by cutting down on the red tape needed to set them up.
The Stop Child Summer Hunger Act of 2019 (S.1941) by Senator Murray (D-WA) ensures kids who usually receive meals at school can get needed nutrition with a summer grocery card.
All kids should be able to access these programs and never be shamed or denied food simply because they don’t have the funds needed to pay.
Oppose Restrictions to Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility
USDA’s proposed rule would take away SNAP from millions of working families, seniors, children, and people with disabilities. The Trump Administration proposed a rule that would take away SNAP benefits from millions of children, seniors, and hardworking Americans. In addition, the proposed rule would result in hundreds of thousands of children losing their school meals. Read Houston Food Bank’s full statement of opposition.
SNAP Time Limit Rule
In February, the Administration published a proposed SNAP ABAWD time-limit rule that would cause 755,000 SNAP participants to lose benefits and result in 8.5 billion meals lost over ten years. Feeding America has developed several materials and resources for our network to help provide public comments against this harmful proposal.
Houston Food Bank strongly opposes the proposed public charge rule that would make it difficult for immigrant families and children to access life-sustaining health and human service programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). We oppose punishing immigrant individuals and families who are in the process of becoming citizens for trying to access food. We call on our community members to take action and submit a comment to the Federal Register before the proposed changes become policy.
Fiscal Year 2020 Advocacy Priorities
Create Space for Community Dialogue and Learning
- Host a symposium on food policy and food access for all HFB stakeholders to learn about and address the root causes of poverty, from the local level up to the federal level.
- Incorporate advocacy into our regular volunteer experiences to help instill a habit of food policy awareness and civic engagement for sustainable change.
- Build a digital network of advocates and develop spaces for engagement and updates with our policy advocacy team.
- Facilitate dialogue on community priorities through coalitions and collaborations to better understand ways in which SNAP, food scholarship, and other HFB programming can increase food access and play a positive role in affecting the larger symptoms of poverty.
Advocate to End Summer Hunger for Kids
This summer, we will be advocating for Congress to support the following marker bills:
- Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act of 2019: Makes it easier for kids to access meals if they are not able to get to a summer site.
- Summer Meals Act of 2019: Improves access to summer meal sites by cutting down on the red tape needed to set them up.
- Stop Child Summer Hunger Act of 2019: Ensures kids who usually get meals at school can get needed nutrition with a summer grocery card.
Continue to Be a Champion for SNAP
- Protect and strengthen SNAP accessibility, adequacy, and eligibility.
- Educate statewide elected officials on the struggles seniors face in accessing food to pass solutions that will break down barriers to enrolling in and staying enrolled in SNAP, such as data matching with Medicaid and extending the recertification period from 12 months to 36.
- Work with our county level elected officials to secure funding to increase SNAP enrollment, which boosts local economies as SNAP dollars are spent.
HFB is committed to protecting the funding and structure of the federal nutrition programs that form the backbone of our nation’s response to hunger. We are urging Congress to protect and defend these programs, especially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as well as other critical anti-hunger programs such as: the SNAP Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Grant Program (SNAP-Ed), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).
SNAP benefits and eligibility must be protected. Without a strong SNAP, the charitable response to hunger will not be able to meet the need. Negative changes to its funding or structure could result in millions of meals lost over the next decade. SNAP responds quickly to changes in need, growing in response to increases in poverty and unemployment, and declining as unemployment falls. The program is effective, provides a path out of poverty and hunger, and leads to improved educational outcomes, productivity, and health.
Nutrition Education plays an essential role in improving health, lowering health care costs and breaking the cycle of poverty. Food banks rely on SNAP-Ed dollars to educate families, seniors and children about eating nutritiously on a budget. The program is highly efficient, has well-documented outcomes at program- and state-levels, and is structured to ensure funding for the most competitive projects in each state.
The Senior box program works to improve the health of our seniors by providing monthly nutritious food packages to low-income senior citizens who meet certain age and income requirements. Each month, participants receive an estimated 26 pounds of USDA commodities. Senior hunger is a serious issue, this and all senior feeding programs must be protected.
TEFAP food is an important part of how Houston Food Bank provides nutritious food to those in need. Funding levels for TEFAP foods are set by the farm bill, and the funds are included in yearly appropriations legislation. Last year, in recognition of consistent high demand at our food bank, the appropriations legislation included additional TEFAP funding.
Houston Food Bank works closely with the Texas Legislature during session, providing testimony in hearings, serving as an expert resource and advocating for policies to make our state hunger-free and healthy.
The Texas Legislature meets on odd-numbered years. The next regular legislative session begins January 12, 2021.