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Federal summer recess means talking about the fall session

Child Nutrition Re-authorization will be voted on this fall by Congress. Among the list of programs this bill covers are the School Breakfast and School Lunch Programs, After-school Meal Program now offered in 14 states and Summer Food. It’s hard to argue that we will not be as successful if our children aren’t learning as they should because they are hungry, and cannot achieve because they aren’t healthy. The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides federal funds to after-school programs to serve meals to children age 18 and under during the school year. The meals can be served at any time during the after-school program, either at a traditional dinner time or immediately when the students arrive after school depending on the length of the after-school program. An after-school snack can also be served in addition to the meal.

We have reached out to 6th District Congressman Luke Messer to stop by Second Harvest Food Bank while home this summer to tour, volunteer and discuss some of the priorities for struggling people from his district. He has agreed to come on August 4th after hosting a Job Fair at Ball State University the same day. The CNR legislation is one of the topics we will want to discuss. The opportunity to discuss any topic face to face with a federal legislator is a rare occurrence, but one that should always be pursued.

Advocacy is one of the 3 areas of focus for our organization, along with Food Distribution and Education. I had an opportunity to meet face to face with 5th District Congresswoman Susan Brooks about a year ago in Anderson and Senator Joe Donnelly a year before that. Earlier this year, all of the Feeding America food banks in the state went to the Indiana Statehouse representing Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, our state food bank association to meet with as many legislators as we could corral to discuss funding from the state to buy food that would not make it to market at a reduced cost from Indiana farmers. We were asking for an increase in the state budget that would put us on par with the Kentucky state budget and food banks. The increase didn’t happen, but we aren’t done talking about it either.

I can recall the faces of many hungry children, some were classmates, some were shopping with parents in the grocery store where I worked and some were in line at the food pantry where I volunteered. All had sad eyes, always sad eyes. I think over time a childhood of sad eyes can give way to frustrated, angry or desperate eyes of adulthood. When a child has a full belly there is a change in personality. A special needs teacher who was getting some snacks from us for her class described the change in behavior she saw in as little as 15 minutes. Someone who was disruptive or lethargic became someone who listened and learned.

Written by Tim Kean

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