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Every five years, Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) presents an opportunity for Congress to improve and strengthen federal child nutrition programs, including the school meal programs, summer meals, afterschool and child care meals, and WIC. The most recent CNR law – the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 – expired on September 30, 2015, with the programs continuing to operate as-is through appropriations acts in the years since. As the CNR process restarts in 2021, Congress has a valuable opportunity to make much-needed investments to improve access to the programs, including by permanently implementing policy improvements that proved successful during COVID-19.

There has never been a more important time to strengthen our nation’s child nutrition programs.

The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented demand for nutrition assistance programs. Federal and state government responded swiftly with program flexibilities and increases, but a focused and coordinated long-term response is needed to ensure all eligible New Yorkers can receive the food assistance they need.

In the upcoming CNR, we urge Congress to:

  • Establish free healthy school meals for all children.
  • Expand and streamline summer and afterschool meal programs.
  • Establish a nationwide, permanent Summer EBT program.
  • Extend WIC eligibility to a child’s sixth birthday, and to two years for postpartum women.
  • Bolster child care meal programs by allowing a third meal for children in full-day care.
  • Streamline administration, increase meal reimbursements, and maximize use of technology to facilitate improved access across the nutrition programs.

See our complete CNR priorities.

Bills We’re Watching

Urge your representatives to cosponsor and support the following bills, which strengthen and expand access to vital child nutrition programs. Click the bill numbers below for bill text and current cosponsors:

Universal School Meals Program Act of 2021 (S. 1530 | H.R. 3115Fact Sheet)

  • Provides school breakfast and lunch to all children at no charge;
  • Extends free afterschool and summer meals to all children;
  • Establishes a nationwide Summer EBT program;
  • Increases school breakfast and school lunch reimbursement rates;
  • Provides a 30-cent per meal reimbursement for schools that procure local foods; and
  • Allows up to three meals and a snack each day at no charge to children in child care.

CARE for Kids Act of 2021 (S. 1590H.R. 3997Fact Sheet)

  • Supports access to free school meals for children in kinship care and other groups of children, including those automatically eligible for Medicaid.

The Stop Child Hunger Act of 2021 (S. 1831H.R. 3519Fact Sheet)

  • Provides EBT food benefits to low-income children when schools close for five days or more, including during the summer, school breaks, and unanticipated school closures.

Summer Meals Act of 2021 (S. 1170H.R. 783Fact Sheet)

  • Improves the area eligibility test by lowering it from 50% to 40% of the community’s children qualifying for free or reduced-price school meals;
  • Provides grant funding to support efforts to reach underserved areas;
  • Streamlines summer and afterschool meal programs; and
  • Allows summer meal sites to serve up to three meals per day.

Wise Investment in Children Act (WIC Act) (S. 853 | H.R. 2011)

  • Extends the WIC certification period to two years;
  • Extends program eligibility until a child’s sixth birthday, and
  • Extends postpartum eligibility to two years for all mothers.

Access to Healthy Food for Young Children Act of 2021 (S. 1270 | Fact Sheet)

  • Streamlines and strengthens the Child and Adult Care Food Program, including by:
    • Allowing providers to serve three meals to children in full-day child care;
    • Increasing reimbursement rates for providers and sponsors;
    • Improving the area eligibility test;
    • Reducing paperwork; and
    • Allowing annual eligibility for proprietary child care centers.

Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act of 2021 (H.R.5919 | Fact Sheet)

  • Allows Child and Adult Care Food Program providers to serve an additional meal or snack to children in full-day child care;
  • Improves reimbursement rate adjustments for child care home providers;
  • Allows annual eligibility for proprietary child care centers;
  • Maximizes technology to reduce paperwork; and
  • Makes improvements to the serious deficiency process.

Wise Investment in Children Act (WIC Act) (S. 853 | H.R. 2011 | Fact Sheet)

  • Extends the infant certification period to two years;
  • Extends child eligibility to age six or the beginning of kindergarten; and
  • Extends postpartum eligibility to two years for all mothers.

The WIC for Kids Act (H.R. 4455)

Permits state agencies administering WIC to:

  • Extend the child certification periods to two years;
  • Provide flexibility to align certification periods among family members;
  • Expand adjunctive eligibility to include members of a family participating in SNAP, Medicaid, and TANF;
  • Expand adjunctive eligibility to include Head Start, Early Head Start, FDPIR, and CHIP; and
  • Prioritize outreach to kinship families.

The MODERN WIC Act (S. 3226)

  • Permanently revises WIC’s in-person application requirements to allow for video or telephone certifications while obtaining relevant health assessment data within 90 days;
  • Allows for remote benefit issuance; and
  • Enhances annual investments in WIC technology.


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