WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today joined Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and several colleagues to introduce the Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act to add flexibility to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which offers children free lunch and snacks in the summer. The bipartisan legislation will apply lessons learned from the pandemic to existing child nutrition programs to make them more efficient, flexible and better equipped to reach children in need during the summer months. 
“Throughout the pandemic, USDA continued to answer the call and feed kids around the country in new and innovative ways. We should take lessons learned from the pandemic and implement these policies moving forward so that kids in communities of all sizes continue to have access to quality meals,” Grassley said. “I’m glad to join this bipartisan, commonsense bill to ensure our kids are fed over the summer break.”
The Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act gives states additional options to reach hungry children in communities without a centralized meal site during the summer, some of which mirror authorities Congress established to help the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) carry out this mission while students received instruction virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Current summer meals regulations require children to travel to a central location and eat together. This works well in some communities. However, in rural areas, it can be difficult for children to reach a site, if one even exists. In suburban and urban areas, inclement weather or violence can keep children from these sites and cause them to miss meals. 
The Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act proposes two alternative options states can utilize through the program. The first would allow for meals to be consumed off-site through innovative means like mobile feeding and backpack meal programs. The other option would authorize the summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program which would provide eligible families $30 per summer month per child to purchase eligible food items from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) approved retailers. In USDA pilot programs, summer EBT was shown to reduce child hunger by over 30 percent. 
Similar steps taken during the pandemic to reduce exposure risks for COVID-19 proved quite successful in maximizing participation. For instance, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act authorized nationwide waivers allowing off-site meal distribution to a parent or guardian to take home to their children. Additionally, the Pandemic EBT program is essentially the same approach this bill proposes for families to use during the summer. 
Along with Grassley, Boozman and Leahy, Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) all joined in introducing the bill. 

The Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act has the support of leading national advocacy groups including Feeding America, Share Our Strength, Tusk Philanthropies, Bread for the World, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, the Alliance to End Hunger and Save the Children.