CONGRESSMAN KATKO CALLS FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO SUMMER MEALS PROGRAMMING AT BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF SYRACUSE
SYRACUSE, NY -- During a visit today to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Syracuse, U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24) pushed for reforms to the Summer Nutrition Program, highlighting his support of The Summer Meals Act, bipartisan legislation he has cosponsored to allow a greater number of community-based organizations to distribute meals to at-risk children.
Summer Nutrition Programs provide federal funding to serve nutritious meals and snacks during summer break when low-income children lose access to free and reduced-price school meals. Meals are generally served at sites located in low-income areas – such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Syracuse – which also offer learning, enrichment and recreational activities for children. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Syracuse, in conjunction with the Syracuse City School District, provides over 200 meals per day to local children in need. It is one of several summer meal distribution sites in NY-24 that works with in conjunction with the Syracuse City School District and the Food Bank of Central New York to supply meals to children in need. However, these programs are often difficult to administer due to inadequate transportation services and burdensome administrative rules.
“For far too many children in our community, the only nutritious meal that they receive is at school. This means that during the summer months, these children may go without healthy meals,” said Rep. John Katko. “Childhood hunger and malnourishment have lasting impacts on a child’s health, education outcomes, and future competitiveness in the workforce. In Congress, I’ve stood up for programs like SNAP, which help to eliminate childhood hunger, and I’ve been a steadfast supporter of the Summer Meals Act to strengthen, protect, and ensure access to the Summer Nutrition Programs.”
The Summer Meals Act would reform current law to ensure that summer food service programs for children may operate efficiently and in areas of the country with the greatest need. Current law requires that 50% of children in the area must be eligible for free or reduced price school meals. This high threshold keeps many communities with significant numbers of low-income children, but not a high enough concentration of poverty, from participating. The Summer Meals Act would change that threshold to require only 40% of children be eligible. The 40% threshold is consistent with other federally funded summer programs, such the 21st Century Community Learning Center programs and Title I.
Representative Katko is one of two Republican cosponsors of the bipartisan legislation.
Additionally, the legislation would:
- Allow local government agencies and private nonprofit organizations to feed children year-round through the Summer Food Service Program. Currently, sponsors must apply to and operate both the Summer Food Service Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) in order to feed children—often the same children—after school and during the summer. This creates duplicative paperwork and confusing administrative rules that discourage participation.
- Provide funding for transportation grants to fund innovative approaches and mobile meal trucks. Transportation is one of the biggest barriers to participation, and these grants would increase low-income children’s access to summer meals in rural and other under-served areas.
- Allow all sites to serve a third meal. Many summer meal sites provide child care to working parents and run all day, but most sites are only able to serve a maximum of two meals. This leaves children without enough nutrition to get through the day or forces sites to use program dollars for food.
Congressman John Katko represents the 24th Congressional District, which includes all of Onondaga, Cayuga, and Wayne Counties and a portion of Oswego County. For more information, please visit https://katko.house.gov or www.facebook.com/RepJohnKatko.