The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics strongly supports the new Keep Kids Fed Act, introduced June 21 in Congress, as a crucial step in addressing nutrition security among school-aged children in the United States. The bill was introduced by U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and John Boozman (Ark.) and U.S. Reps. Bobby Scott (Va.) and Virginia Foxx (N.C.).
Studies have shown that the school cafeteria is the healthiest place for children to eat in the U.S. The Keep Kids Fed Act therefore is more important than ever in providing parents and guardians with the assurance that their children are receiving healthful meals to fuel them throughout this summer as well as the next school year."
Ellen R. Shanley, registered dietitian nutritionist and the Academy's 2022-2023 President
The Academy commends the Keep Kids Fed Act, which grants the U.S. Department of Agriculture the authority to provide temporary waivers that will provide full flexibilities to summer meal programs, eliminate the reduced-price meal category and increase reimbursement rates in response to rising food costs.
"The Academy and our members have tirelessly advocated for the continuation of child nutrition waivers as the country continues to grapple with ongoing supply chain and labor shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as inflation," Shanley said.
Because the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on people from underrepresented communities and those with diet-related disease, access to healthful school meals promotes nutrition security as well as health equity.
While the Academy considers nutrition waivers to be a step in the right direction, the legislation comes late in the process as schools are organizing and operating summer meal programs and planning meal programs for the next school year.
"A better solution is to make school meals free for all children, all year," Shanley said. "The Academy has long advocated for Healthy School Meals for All and will continue to educate members of Congress on its benefits. We look forward to working with Congress on a permanent solution to issues of nutrition security for all, particularly for children."