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Over the weekend, the president signed critical legislation championed by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) to ensure kids have access to healthy, nutritious meals this summer and next school year.
The Keep Kids Fed Act will deliver important funding and flexibility for communities to provide children healthy meals this summer and offer support to schools and daycares to respond to supply chain challenges and high food costs for the coming school year.
“As I visit with Arkansas school nutrition professionals, it is quite clear they need continued flexibilities to manage ongoing supply chain issues. We all want to ensure children in receive healthy and affordable meals to help them focus on their education. This bill will help schools provide those meals as they return to normal operations,” Boozman said.
Last Tuesday, Boozman, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry along with Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (VA-3) and Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (NC-5), introduced the legislation.
Nationwide,schools currently face a 35-40 percent increase in food costs due to supply chain and inflation issues. The Keep Kids Fed Act provides a temporary increase in reimbursement rates and no-cost flexibilities for the 2022-2023 school year to help return to regular school meal operations.
Arkansas school leaders and nutrition advocates have expressed the need for a continuation of the waivers and applauded Boozman’s efforts.
“Senator Boozman has a sensitive ear, and he has listened to our needs. He is truly an advocate for not only the children of Arkansas but the nation’s children as well. Senator Boozman is to be commended for leading the way to a bipartisan agreement with other ranking lawmakers. The decision he and his fellow colleagues have made will protect the future (our children) of this country. The support they are providing will enable us to continue serving healthy meals despite rising food costs and supply chain issues; this is turn will prevent hunger and ensure that they are ready and will remain ready to learn when they return to school. Senator Boozman – We thank you!” said Barbara Cole, Chair of the Public Policy and Legislative Committee of the Arkansas School Nutrition Association.
“We applaud Senator Boozman’s efforts to achieve a bipartisan agreement on the summer meals waiver. He continues to demonstrate his commitment to child nutrition and has listened to those on the ground in Arkansas advocating for an extension. His efforts will help Arkansas kids get the nutrition they need,” said Kathy Webb, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance CEO.
“In March, I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Senator Boozman. It was great to have his full attention, to have him ask specific questions, and then later reach out to me to provide data to follow through with supporting us in feeding school meals to the students in Arkansas. I’m pleased Arkansans have a voice in creating policies providing children access to school meals,” said Stephanie Walker Hynes, Director of Child Nutrition for the Little Rock School District.