Hoeven Helps Introduce Legislation to Make Summer Meal Programs More Flexible for Students

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, this week joined Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.), ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in introducing the Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act. This bipartisan legislation aims to make existing child nutrition programs more efficient, flexible and better equipped to reach low-income students during the summer months.

“This is about removing a one-size-fits all approach to how we get meals to students in rural communities,” said Hoeven. “This legislation grants flexibility to these programs by taking what we learned through the COVID-19 pandemic and applying it to ensure students, even in the summer, have access to healthy and nutritious meals.” 

The Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act proposes two alternative options that states can utilize through the Summer Food Service Program. The first would allow meals to be consumed off-site through grab-and-go options like mobile feeding and backpack meal programs. The other option would authorize the summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program, which would provide eligible families $30 per summer month per child to purchase eligible food items from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) approved retailers. USDA first implemented these options at the beginning of the COVID-19 public health emergency, and has since extended them through the 2021-2022 school year. 

Along with Hoeven, Boozman and Leahy, this legislation was introduced by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senators Michael Bennet (D-Col.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and John Thune (R-S.D.).