In Maine, over 60,000 children live in food insecurity. This means that an estimated one out of five children do not know where they are getting their next meal.
As a result, many Maine children in families rely on programs like the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to provide healthy meals and snacks for kids in child care programs. However, more children are spending longer hours in child care and they have a single request: one more snack, please.
U.S. Senate Child Nutrition Bill
Last week, we were pleased to hear that the U.S. Senate Agricultural Committee passed a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act. “The Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016” is not perfect but it makes some much-needed changes to important programs like including an additional snack provision in the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
While adding a single snack to the CACFP may seem minor, it keeps our kids healthy, their brains active and parents working. It is critical for Maine children spending long hours in child care to have access to healthy meals and snacks throughout the day. The early years are crucial in a child’s life and nutritious food is essential for brain development and future success.
It’s not “Just a Snack”
In this economy, many Maine parents are working longer and more nontraditional hours. This means children spend more time in child care so their parents can afford rent, heat their homes and pay their bills. Another snack will tide our kids over until their parents can pick them up.
Last year, the program served over 10,000 Mainers each day. With over 46,000 of our kids living in poverty and almost 47 percent of our kids eligible for free and reduced lunch, the CACFP is a good start to tackling the growing issue of child hunger in Maine.
This bill still has a long way before it becomes law. First, it must pass through the corresponding House Committee and receive support on the floor of both house. Nevertheless, this is a step in the right direction for Maine kids and families.
For more information on the U.S. Senate’s child nutrition re-authorization bill, check out the following resources: