Food insecurity among children on the rise, experts push to support school meal programs

The pandemic has highlighted inequities when it comes to nutrition among children. There’s now a push to make sure certain standards are upheld for national meal programs.

One of those programs is the Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization Program, which includes breakfast and lunch served at schools. It will be updated this year and will go to Congress for approval for the first time in 10 years.

Dr. Cheryl Anderson is a professor and chair in the Department of Family and Public Health at the University of California San Diego and said more than 12 million kids are facing food insecurity, a major problem that could be addressed through the reauthorization legislation.

“The burden is borne by Black and Hispanic families more so than white families,” she added.

She said school lunch and breakfast are important when it comes to preventing obesity, helping kids meet dietary guidelines and addressing other potential health complications. More than 99% of schools in the national school lunch program currently meet nutrition standards.

She also works with the American Heart Association and said the organization backs the legislation, which is seen as an important step in providing meals for the more than 45 million students who eat at school.

“We urge congressional leaders to uphold these standards and to help our kids get the healthiest meals they can,” she said.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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