Legislation will expand programs and access to nutritious food for millions of children
CHICAGO Dec. 2, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Greater Chicago Food Depository applauded Congress' passage of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization today. The bill will reauthorize child nutrition programs for five years and includes an additional $4.5 billion in funding for school meal programs over 10 years. For Chicago, the bill will help to improve the quality of school meals while helping hundreds of thousands of children receive nutritious food after school, on evenings, during summer and during weekends. The new legislation will improve the Food Depository's nearly 100 meal programs for children. The Food Depository serves more than 250,000 children in Cook County each year.
"The passage of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization puts nutritious food on the table for children in Chicago and across the country," said Kate Maehr, executive director and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. "This is a critical step in investing in future generations. Continued inaction on this bill would have imperiled even more children, many of whom already are facing enormous pressures during these difficult times."
Nationwide, 17 million children live in food insecure households. In Cook County, a recent survey shows that thousands of children are falling short of nutrition standards:
- 45 percent of children surveyed missed a main meal in the previous 24 hours.
- In no main food group, did even half of children surveyed meet the recommended daily allowance established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Just 7.8 percent children met the recommended daily allowance for both fruit and vegetables.
- Just. 0.7 percent met the recommended daily allowance in all five food groups.
The Food Depository offers nutritious food through programs including after-school Kids Cafes, Healthy Kids Markets "pantries in schools," the Nourish for Knowledge backpack program, the summer Lunch Bus and the Summer Food Service Program. The nutrition bill will expand food access in summer months—just 17 percent of eligible Illinois schoolchildren utilize summer programs.
"Few children are aware of summer programs, and many locations must limit the number of children who participate due to bureaucracy and logistics," Maehr said. "The child nutrition bill will raise program awareness, expand eligibility and reduce the administrative burden that keeps sites from serving all youths in their neighborhoods."
The child nutrition bill has been debated since last year; the Senate passed its version of the bill in August. While increasing funding for child nutrition programs, the House bill taps funds that had been allocated to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program). The Obama Administration has said it will seek to restore SNAP funding.
"We urge Congress to swiftly restore funding for SNAP benefits before the end of session," Maehr said.
For an interview with Kate Maehr, please contact Bob Dolgan at 773-843-7293 or 773-447-1980.
ABOUT THE GREATER CHICAGO FOOD DEPOSITORY
The Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago's food bank, is a nonprofit food distribution and training center providing food for hungry people while striving to end hunger in our community. The Food Depository distributes donated and purchased food through a network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens and shelters to 678,000 adults and children in Cook County every year. Last year, the Food Depository distributed 66 million pounds of nonperishable food and fresh produce, dairy products and meat, the equivalent of 135,000 meals every day. The Food Depository's programs and services for children, older adults and the unemployed and underemployed address the root causes of hunger. For more information, log onto www.chicagosfoodbank.org or call 773-247-FOOD.
SOURCE Greater Chicago Food Depository