FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Feeding Kentucky has commended the introduction of the Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act of 2021. Co-sponsored by Senator Mitch McConnell, the legislation works to address childhood hunger during the summer through steps such as home delivery of summer meals and permanently authorizing the Summer EBT program.
“With 1 in 5 Kentucky kids experiencing food insecurity, the Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act will provide the much-needed flexibility that summer nutrition providers and Kentucky families need to ensure no child in Kentucky goes hungry,” said Katrina Thompson, Executive Director of Feeding Kentucky. “We applaud Leader McConnell for leading the effort to end summer hunger.”
The new act focuses on rural areas, which have much higher rates of food insecurity and lower rates of participation in traditional summer feeding programs. Feeding America says that 86% of the counties with the highest percentage of children at risk for food insecurity are rural.
Typically, children in rural parts of the state have a difficult time accessing summer meals even though summer meal sites do exist. By loosening the congregate meal requirement, students can eat meals off-site and schools are allowed to deliver meals to students’ homes. Summer EBT will provide a grocery card to qualifying families to buy food from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) authorized retailers. In USDA pilot programs, Summer EBT was seen to reduce child hunger by more than 30 percent.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have seen how successful mobile meals can be for Kentucky kids living in rural areas,” said Kate McDonald, No Kid Hungry Kentucky Campaign Director. “School nutrition professionals have worked overtime to deliver meals directly to children’s neighborhoods, ensuring transportation isn’t a barrier to Kentucky kids getting the nutritional support they need. The Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act builds on this success.”