NORFOLK, Va. — Addressing food insecurity in Hampton Roads is a top priority for Congressman Bobby Scott. That’s why he’s introducing a new bill to tackle the problem called the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act.
“Many children even before the pandemic were having trouble accessing food, about 10%," Rep. Scott said. "The pandemic made things worse.”
Scott hopes the bill will aid in eliminating child hunger. It will:
- Expand access to school meals by expanding the Community Eligibility Provision so more school districts can provide free meals and ensure children on Medicaid are automatically certified for free school meals.
- Preserve the future of school meal programs by increasing the reimbursement rate for lunch by 10 cents and providing commodity support to the School Breakfast Program.
- Modernize the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) by expanding WIC eligibility to age 6
- Address food insecurity during the summer by authorizing the Summer EBT Program at $75 per month per household
- Improve school meal capacity and sustainability by providing grants to purchase kitchen equipment, supporting farm-to-school programs, and incentivizing scratch cooking.
- Strengthen the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) by providing reimbursement for an additional meal or snack per child, allowing children in households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to be automatically eligible
Mary Vause, a parent of two, said a little will go a long way, as she and her family have managed high food costs throughout the summer.
“I mean $75 extra a month in groceries is a huge deal for families with children,” she said.
That’s one of the ways Scott hopes to address food insecurity over the summer. He said he understood what’s needed to combat child hunger in the region after visiting local schools and touring the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and Eastern Shore earlier this month.
"The food bank is challenged and the feeding sites are challenged," Scott said. "We need to make sure that they have the proper resources to feed the children.”
Scott said this bill would provide schools grants to purchase kitchen equipment – even supporting farm-to-school programs. Much of what’s in this bill builds off of the Keep Kids Fed Act – a bill recently signed into law that extends pandemic nutrition meals.
“I know a lot of families in Newport News benefitted from it," Vause said. "So I think that it’s great that they’re extending it and getting more food to families.
Scott said this legislation hopes to develop a long-term fix for hunger in Hampton Roads.