Statement attributable to Chris Bernard, Hunger Free Oklahoma Executive Director
TULSA, Okla. (June 22, 2022) – “Congress took an important step yesterday to combat childhood hunger with the announcement of an agreement to protect access to school and summer meals through the introduction of the bipartisan Keep the Kids Fed Act by Senate Committee on Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR), along with House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA 03) and Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R NC-5).
“Oklahoma has some of the worst food insecurity rates in the nation, especially among children, with as many as one in five lacking access to adequate food and nutrition. These numbers would have been far worse over the last two years if not for the waiver flexibilities in the federal child nutrition programs that are set to expire at the end of this month.
“This bipartisan and budget-neutral legislation will ensure the United States Department of Agriculture has continued temporary authority needed to provide critical summer meal flexibilities, which ensured more than 20.3 million meals reached Oklahoma children last year. Additionally, the Keep Kids Fed Act will streamline access to healthy meals by eliminating the reduced-price meal category and increase reimbursement rates for school nutrition programs to help offset rapidly rising food costs and continued supply chain issues.
“Hunger Free Oklahoma and many others have been calling for action on these crucial issues for months now. While in D.C. last week meeting with congressional officials and anti-hunger leaders, we were heartened to hear that these discussions were taking place, and that the bipartisan discussions have produced a bill that provides certainty, something that has been severely lacking over the last year, to children and families, schools, and other child nutrition providers through the end of next school year.
“Hunger Free Oklahoma applauds Congress for acting swiftly to introduce this legislation ahead of the June 30 expiration of current waiver flexibility, and we urge the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation to vote for this urgently needed legislation to ensure child nutrition programs remain strong for Oklahoma children.”
Hunger Free Oklahoma works to leverage the power of collaboration to solve hunger in Oklahoma by improving systems, policies, and practices. Learn more at HungerFreeOK.org.