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Sen. Marshall works to ensure Kansas kids do not go hungry

(GRAYDC)
Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 4:59 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Senator Roger Marshall is working to ensure rural Kansas children do not go hungry over the summer.

Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) says he has joined a bipartisan group to help introduce the Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act to add more flexibility to the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program, which offers kids free lunch and snacks while school is out. He said the legislation applies lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to existing child nutrition programs to make them more efficient, flexible and better equipped to reach kids during the summer.

Sen. Marshall said he applauded the USDA for ensuring that children have access to nutritious food. He said no child should ever go hungry during the summer due to outdated regulations and a failed one size fits all approach.

According to Marshall, the bill will give states more options to reach hungry kids in communities without centralized feeding sites during the summer, some of which mirror what Congress did to help the USDA carry out its mission while students were kept home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marshall said current regulations require children to travel to a central location and eat together. He said this works well in some communities, but in rural areas, it can be hard for kids to reach a site, if one even exists. In suburban areas, he said inclement weather or violence can keep children from the sites and cause them to miss meals.

The legislation applies knowledge gained from USDA program expansions during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic said Marshall, like Meals to You, which is a public-private partnership that delivered almost 40 million meals to rural kids all over the nation. He said Meals To You served 176 kids in two school districts in Kansas: Fairfield Unified School District in Reno Co. and Golden Plains Unified School District in Sheridan Co. He said the expanded program was eliminated when the majority of rural schools returned to in-person classes.

According to Marshall, the Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act proposes two alternative options that states will be able to use through the program. He said the first would allow the summer EBT program to provide eligible families with $30 per summer month per child to purchase eligible food items from SNAP retailers. In USDA pilot programs, he said summer EBT was shown to reduce child hunger by over 30%.

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