In his FY 2017 budget request to Congress, President Obama will seek $12 billion over 10 years for a new program to provide summer meals to every low-income kid who gets free or reduced-price meal at the school cafeteria.
Obama will release the budget request on Feb. 9.
The budget will call for spending $12 billion to provide the aid through the use of EBT cards, which are now used for delivering food stamp benefits, USDA Secy. Tom Vilsack said during a recent White House summit on child hunger.
The proposal comes as the Senate is moving a child nutrition reauthorization bill that contains a more modest expansion of federally funded summer feeding programs.
Vilsack said the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children program would provide supplemental food benefits to children in low-income families via EBT – electronic debit – cards during the summer months when they don’t have access to school-provided meals.
Currently, almost 22 million children receive free and reduced-price school meals during the school year, but only a small fraction of those students have access to free or reduced meals during the summer.
“We think the time has come to commit as a country to … making sure that not 3.8 million youngsters have access to summer meals, not 5 million, not 7 million, not 12 million, but all 21 million kids that are currently free and reduced, have access,” Vilsack said.
“We believe over the course of the next several years that we can gradually increase the number of youngsters and families that are covered by this (summer feeding) program, so that at the end of the 10-year period, 100 percent of kids will have access to either a (summer feeding site) or to an EBT card that their parents can use to provide additional resources.”