Supporting Improvement to Federal Child Nutrition Programs

Adopted at the 90th Annual Meeting in 2022

  • WHEREAS, Mayors are committed to improving the health and well-being of America's children by strengthening federal child nutrition programs; and

    WHEREAS, 1 in 6 kids in the United States face hunger, impacting their physical and mental health, ability to learn, and overall development; and

    WHEREAS, food insecurity is twice as prevalent among Black households, more than 60% higher among Hispanic/Latino households, and nearly 50% higher among households with children under age six compared to the national average; and

    WHEREAS, child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), Summer EBT for Children (SEBTC), Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT), and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), reach millions of children every year and are the front line of defense against childhood hunger and food insecurity; and

    WHEREAS, child nutrition programs support access to healthy food and improve diet quality for students who may otherwise not eat, and regular access to healthy and affordable meals improves kids' health and development, and enhances their ability to learn and perform in school, like having a positive impact on grades, absenteeism and tardiness; and

    WHEREAS, in 2019, 29.6 million children participated in the NSLP, 14.8 million participated in the SBP, 6.4 million mothers and children received food and nutrition education through WIC, and nearly 2.8 million children participated in summer meal programs; and

    WHEREAS, the COVID-19 pandemic rolled back gains that were made to reduce child hunger and food insecurity as an estimated 2 million more children may have faced hunger in 2021 compared to before the pandemic, and created widespread challenges for children to safely access food; and

    WHEREAS, nationwide United States Department of Agriculture waivers, which allowed child nutrition programs to effectively adapt amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, currently expire on June 30, 2022, after which time programs will lose flexibilities that have helped ensure continued access to nutritious meals for kids, and

    WHEREAS, the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows eligible schools to serve breakfast and lunch to all students at no cost, increasing meal program participation, food security, and academic outcomes, while also allowing schools to reduce administrative costs by eliminating the collection of paper applications and streamlining meal service operations; and

    WHEREAS, P-EBT, a temporary program that provided a grocery benefit to children who lost access to free and reduced priced meals at school due to COVID-19, provided roughly $100 in cash value benefits each month per child in 2020, which supported an average of 37 meals each month, or breakfast and lunch for each school day missed; and

    WHEREAS, the SEBTC Program provides additional support for families with children to purchase food when school meals are inaccessible during the summer, and is proven to help reduce food insecurity even though it tends to increase over the summer otherwise; and

    WHEREAS, non-congregate meal delivery options, which mitigate transportation and access barriers, were critical to distributing meals during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in rural and hard-to-reach-communities and areas with transportation challenges, and offer a blueprint for more effective summer meals operations in the future; and

    WHEREAS, persistent barriers prevent eligible women and children from participating in WIC, including a lack of remote appointments, short certification periods, and limited flexibilities in food purchasing, ordering, and delivery; and

    WHEREAS, adequately funded and evidence-based federal legislation can reduce childhood hunger and food insecurity in America, improve child nutrition and health, and enhance healthy child development and school readiness, allowing more children to reach their full potential; and

    THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors urges Congress to enact legislation that protects, strengthens and improves child nutrition programs, including by making permanent the COVID-19 waiver flexibilities that help child nutrition programs provide children, particularly those of low-income, with access to quality meals through streamlining, reducing administrative burdens, and increased program flexibility; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors urges Congress to permanently authorize the SEBTC program, make program funding mandatory, and expand eligibility to reach kids eligible for free or reduced-price school meals in all states, tribal nations and localities to close the summer meals gap; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors urges Congress to allow more flexibility around where children are able to access and eat summer meals by allowing for non-congregate models in communities where summer meals sites are not available, and lowering the threshold required to operate sites open to all children; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S Conference of Mayors urges Congress to expand and strengthen CEP by lowering the minimum identified student percentage (ISP), increasing the ISP multiplier, expanding direct certification with Medicaid data nationwide, and supporting improvements to direct certification systems to allow more schools to take advantage of CEP's well-documented benefits; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors urges Congress to permanently authorize the PEBT program, allowing authorities to quickly deliver increased nutritional aid during declared emergencies; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors urges Congress to increase the WIC cash value benefit for fruits and vegetables and implement online grocery purchasing to provide more equitable access to nutritious food for infants and children; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors urges Congress to invest in the ability of states and localities to provide access to healthy and affordable meals before, during and after school for all children, all year long.

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