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Adams’ Bill Addresses School Nutrition and Student Hunger During COVID-19

May 12, 2020
Press Release
Language from the Funding Emergency Eating Distribution for the Children (FEED the Children) Act included in HEROES Act pandemic package.

Washington – Today, Congresswoman Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (NC-12) introduced the Funding Emergency Eating Distribution for the Children(FEED the Children) Act, legislation to provide emergency reimbursements for the operational costs of school food authorities during the COVID–19 pandemic.The language of the bill was included in today’s HEROES Act pandemic package.

“Especially during a pandemic, school meal programs provide a lifeline for students. Daily, nutritious school meals are critical for over 11 million food insecure children,” said Congresswoman Adams. “However, as these programs work tirelessly to distribute food to as many of their students as possible, they face major funding shortfalls. Many school food authorities won’t have sufficient funds to make it through the fall. My bill, the FEED the Children Act, addresses this crisis by ensuring that school nutrition professionals have the resources they need to feed children in need as we continue to weather the impacts of COVID-19.”

The FEED the Children Act has 20 original cosponsors in the House, including House Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott, Representatives Adam Smith, Bennie G. Thompson, Bobby L. Rush, Chellie Pingree, Cheri Bustos, Debbie Dingell, Donald M. Payne, Jr., Frederica S. Wilson, G. K. Butterfield, Jahana Hayes, James P. McGovern, Jan Schakowsky, Marcia Fudge, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Raúl M. Grijalva, Susan Wild, Sylvia R. Garcia, Ted Lieu, TJ Cox. A copy of the bill is available here.

Additionally, the FEED the Children Act is endorsed by numerous organizations, including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), School Nutrition Association, Share Our Strength, and the Urban School Food Alliance.

“With unemployment soaring and food insecurity on the rise, so many more students depend on school meals to nourish their bodies and minds,” said School Nutrition Association (SNA) President Gay Anderson, SNS. “COVID-19 has crippled school meal program budgets, leaving many districts without sufficient funds to restock school kitchens for next school year. SNA commends Representative Adams for taking steps to address this urgent problem. Congress must pass the FEED the Children Act to ensure school nutrition professionals have the resources to safely meet students’ critical nutrition needs this fall.”

“When schools closed, school nutrition staff immediately transitioned their distribution model to ensure that students relying on school meals continued to have access to safe, nutritious meals,” said Dr. Katie Wilson, Executive Director of the Urban School Food Alliance. “This heroic work, as emergency community feeding hubs, has come at a devastating cost to the school nutrition program. Keeping all employees on the payroll, purchasing large quantities of packaging materials for grab and go meals, renting refrigerated trucks for keeping food safe, transportation of food to homeless children, and providing PPE for employees are just some of the reasons for the extraordinary financial fallout these districts are suffering due to COVID19. We applaud Congresswoman Adams for introducing this bill to give school nutrition programs financial relief to help them become whole again and begin the new school year in a position to continue using America's food supply to serve healthy meals in schools across the country.”

“Prior to the pandemic millions of kids across the country received school meals as a part of their daily nutrition,”said Lisa Davis, Senior Vice President of Share Our Strength. “Today with soaring unemployment and loss of income, many families are teetering on economic despair and hunger, and the need for school meals is only increasing. School districts across the country have stepped up to make sure children do not go hungry during this pandemic. This has placed a financial strain on many schools who have exhausted every available resource. The FEED the Children Act will help school nutrition budgets recover from this impact so they can continue to nourish children so they can thrive.”

“The FEED the Children Act is an important piece of legislation that addresses the health disparities of minority communities during the COVID-19 pandemic,”said registered dietitian nutritionist Kristen Gradney, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “By ensuring that schools are prepared to serve students in the fall, we are making certain that students will have reliable access to healthful meals.”

“Schools have become a frontline in the pandemic, providing necessary meals to countless children while operating under tremendous financial stress. Congress must step up as the school meals program is a federally-funded program and we applaud Representative Alma Adams for her leadership. This legislation will provide crucial relief for schools so that they can continue meeting the needs of their communities without breaking the bank,” said Colin Schwartz, Deputy Director Legislative Affairs, Center for Science in the Public Interest.

According to 2017 numbers, there are 37,720 food insecure children (18.2%) in the 12th Congressional District.

Congresswoman Alma Adams represents North Carolina’s 12th Congressional District (Charlotte) serves as Vice Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture. Additionally, she serves on the House Financial Services Committee and the House Education & Labor Committee, where she serves as Chair of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee. During her first year in office, she founded the Adams Hunger Initiative to help the tens of thousands of food insecure 12th District families.