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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

  • Maintain and increase the adequacy of benefits provided through SNAP
    • Improve the adequacy of monthly SNAP allotments by using USDA’s Low-Cost Food Plan in place of the Thrifty Food Plan when calculating SNAP benefit amounts.
    • Eliminate the cap on the Excess Shelter Deduction in the SNAP formula for all households to take into account the cost of living for SNAP recipients in areas with high rent and utilities.
    • Permanently authorize the standard medical deduction in every state for seniors and disabled individuals applying for SNAP benefits at a minimum of $140. Individuals with higher expenses could continue to apply for a higher, itemized medical deduction.
    • Maintain food choice for SNAP recipients, and prioritize incentives to purchase more produce.
  • Expand the number of people who are eligible to participate in SNAP:
    • End ABAWD time limits for all unemployed adults.
    • Permanently expand SNAP eligibility to students by eliminating long-standing work-for-food SNAP rules that require many students to work at least 20 hours per week or participate in federal work-study.
    • Clarify the legal definition of the military’s Basic Allowance for Housing so it will not be counted as income when determining eligibility for SNAP.
  • Ensure SNAP accessibility and flexibility throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic downturn.
    • Extend the federal pandemic emergency allowing states to provide interview adjustment waivers and emergency allotments of SNAP.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization

  • Reauthorize Child Nutrition Programs with timely and comprehensive legislation that ensures access to meal programs for all eligible children. The authorization for these federally-funded child nutrition programs expired in September 2015 and is currently being maintained through a Continuing Resolution.

School Breakfast Program (SBP) and National School Lunch Program (NSLP)

  • Expand student access to school meals:
    • Establish nationwide universal school meal program where healthy free school meals are available to all children, regardless of individual household income.
    • Strengthen and expand the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), in absence of a nationwide universal school meal program, in the following ways:
      • Establish a statewide option to adopt CEP to enable states to implement statewide universal meal programs.
      • Increase the reimbursement multiplier– currently 1.6 – to 2.5 percent, so that all eligible schools are able to adopt CEP and receive 100% federal reimbursement to cover the cost of providing free school meals for all.
      • Lower the eligibility threshold from 40% to 25% Identified Student Percentage (ISP).
  • Maintain and improve the integrity of school meals:
    • Protect and maintain the school nutrition standards in SBP and NSLP.
    • Increase SBP and NSLP reimbursements rates to match the recommended rates of the USDA School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study (April 2019) to be in line with USDA’s estimated cost of producing meals and then be adjusted annually for inflation.
    • Allow school districts to retroactively claim and receive reimbursements back to the first day of the school year for school meals that were served to low-income students who became certified for free or reduced-price school meals later in the school year.
    • Similar to New York’s policy, protect all children from any type of shaming due to unpaid school meal debt by banning any kind of overt-identification of students who cannot pay for lunch at school and punitive actions toward families.
  • Streamline eligibility and the verification process to improve program access:
    • Streamline eligible children’s access to school meals by leveraging additional opportunities to directly certify low-income children for free school meals in the following ways:
      • Expand Medicaid direct certification nationwide to automatically certify children for free or reduced-price school meals who live in a household who receives Medicaid within the income limits for NSLP
      • Extend categorical eligibility for free school meals to:
        • Children who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, guardianship, or adoption assistance payments, or are in kinship care.
        • Children in households that participate in the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
        • Children in military households that receive the Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance.
      • Require states to incorporate all new and currently categorically eligible children into current data matching systems.
  • As part of the COVID-19 response:
    • Extend all other current waivers to be in place until at least 90 days after the end of the nationally-declared public health emergency.
    • Extend the Child Nutrition Emergency Operational Costs Reimbursement Program to cover the duration of the nationally-declared public health emergency.
    • Ensure the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program, which allows families to receive benefits if schools close due to COVID-19, provides sufficient and timely resources to all eligible children.

Out-of-School-Time Meal Programs

  • Streamline eligibility and administration to improve program access:
    • Eliminate the area eligibility test for summer and afterschool meals to ensure access to healthy meals in all communities, including rural areas, which often do not meet the current eligibility threshold.
      • An initial step toward this goal is to expand area eligibility by reducing the threshold from 50% to 40% of children qualifying for free or reduced-price school meals, in alignment with the Department of Education’s Title 1 and 21st Century Community Learning Center programs.
    • Allow meal program sponsors to feed children year-round seamlessly:
      • Allow schools to provide meals after school and during weekends and breaks throughout the regular school year through the National School Lunch Program.
      • Allow summer meal sponsors to serve meals and snacks after school and during weekends and breaks throughout the regular school year through the Summer Food Service Program.
    • Building on the success of Pandemic EBT and Summer EBT programs, establish a permanent, nationwide program to provide EBT benefits to children who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, SNAP, and/or WIC when schools are closed, including during the summer, school breaks, and unanticipated school closures.
  • Maximize program effectiveness:
    • Provide funding for summer meals start-up grants for mobile meals and other innovative strategies for rural and other hard-to-reach communities.
    • Increase flexibility and supporting options to provide summer nutrition to children with limited access to congregate feeding models outside of school.
    • Allow summer meal sites the option of serving a third meal.
    • Give funding priority for federal grants to programs that sponsor/operate all eligible child nutrition programs.
  • As part of the COVID-19 response:
    • Extend all current waivers to be in place until at least 90 days after the end of the nationally-declared public health emergency.

Child Care Meal Programs

  • Streamline eligibility and administration to improve program access:
    • Eliminate the area eligibility test for family, group family, and legally exempt child care providers, allowing all such providers to receive Tier 1 reimbursement rates.
    • Establish a Community Eligibility Provision and a “Provision 2” option that would align CACFP with NSLP, streamlining paperwork for parents, programs, and sponsors, and enabling use of efficient technology.
    • Establish an area eligibility option for child care centers.
    • Allow annual eligibility for proprietary centers.
    • Reauthorize a paperwork reduction workgroup.
  • Maximize program effectiveness:
    • Restore CACFP providers’ option to serve a third meal in full-day child care.
    • Increase CACFP reimbursement rates to align with updated meal patterns that strengthen the nutritional quality of meals and snacks.
    • Use the Consumer Price Index for Food Away From Home as the cost of living adjustment for CACFP reimbursement rates for legally exempt, family, and group family child care providers, in alignment with what is used for child care centers.
    • Increase administrative reimbursement rates for CACFP sponsors to fully cover the cost of administering the program.
  • As part of the COVID-19 response:
    • Extend all current waivers to be in place until at least 90 days after the end of the nationally-declared public health emergency.
    • Extend the Child Nutrition Emergency Operational Costs Reimbursement Program to cover the duration of the nationally-declared public health emergency.

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

  • Protect and preserve the scientific integrity of the WIC food package by improving the adequacy of benefits:
    • Sustain the increase in WIC’s Cash Value Benefit through at least September 2022 and take additional steps to permanently enhance the value and nutritional quality of WIC-approved foods, in alignment with expert recommendations from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
    • Implement the recommendations included in the 2017 review by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine:
      • Provide WIC families with options and flexibility to meet their dietary and nutrient needs.
      • Allow increased consumption and choice in whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
      • Decrease certain foods that were found to be offered in too large a quantity or were burdensome to WIC families.
      • Encourage continued and improved support for breastfeeding mothers.
  • Streamline eligibility and administration to improve and expand program access:
    • Extend eligibility to address targeted nutrition gaps in current eligibility:
      • Extend eligibility for children until their sixth birthday.
      • Extend postpartum eligibility until two years.
    • Modernize and streamline WIC services to expand access to WIC for all eligible families:
      • Relax physical presence requirements to permit remote certifications and allow families 90 days to demonstrate nutrition risk.
      • Require states to accept electronic documents before, during, and after appointments.
      • Extend certification periods to two years for all categories and align certification periods for all family members.
      • Incorporate additional programs targeted at young children, including Head Start, as adjunctively eligible programs to enhance retention of toddlers.
      • Develop state-by-state estimates of the number of children under 5 and pregnant women receiving SNAP, Medicaid, Early Head Start or Head Start but not WIC.
      • Support efforts to use technology for applications, appointment scheduling, and ongoing participant requirements, ideally integrated into state management information systems.
      • Require states to create and update joint cross-enrollment plans and policies that include cross enrollment goals and timelines that routinely refer SNAP and Medicaid recipients to WIC; fund state and local partnerships and technical assistance that help to implement state plans and work toward cross-enrollment goals.
    • Improve equity in WIC among race/ethnicity characteristics:
      • Enhance data collection efforts, targeting outreach, and strengthening tribal services.
      • Ensure ongoing access to WIC services for immigrant or mixed-status families.
      • Establish annual funding for WIC outreach.
  • Maximize program effectiveness by:
    • Modernize WIC services to enhance WIC’s public health impact and provide a participant experience compatible with other benefit programs and healthcare/ commercial standard practices.
      • Leverage telehealth options to provide a modern participant experience, including online nutrition education.
      • Provide additional funding to accelerate online shopping solutions that permit online transaction, in-store or curbside pickup, and additional transaction technologies that afford WIC participants a modern, convenient, and equitable shopping experience.
      • Expand WIC’s breastfeeding services through peer counselors and innovative out-of-clinic placement of WIC breastfeeding staff at hospitals, physician offices, and with home visiting programs.
      • Consider appropriate flexibilities to enhance WIC’s capacity to respond to disasters and emergencies.
      • Strengthen state spend-forward authorities to permit greater flexibility in program investments.
    • Expand efforts to better understand WIC’s reach and effectiveness in underserved communities.
  • As part of the COVID-19 response:
    • Protect current waivers that remain in place until at least 90 days after the end of the nationally-declared public health emergency under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 247d).
    • Ensure any future enhanced federal unemployment insurance is not countable for WIC.
    • Expand Pandemic EBT eligibility criteria for children 0-6 to include WIC participant children

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