Friday, April 08, 2016 – Today, United States Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, joined local partners and school children participating in the Flint Police Activities League to announce $6.9 million in federal funding to help 83, 701 Michigan children receive healthy meals this summer. Thanks to this funding, nearly 16,000 Flint school children and 43,000 Detroit school children will now be eligible for expanded access to healthy meals during the upcoming summer months. Stabenow, who made the announcement at the Haskell Youth Center in Flint, was joined by United States Department of Agriculture’s Under Secretary for Food and Nutrition Services Kevin Concannon.
“This investment comes at a critical time for thousands of children in Michigan,” Stabenow said. “Children often go hungry in the summer when they no longer have access to nutritious meals at school. We need to ensure that no child goes hungry because school is out. That’s why I made expanding summer meals a priority in my bipartisan child nutrition bill and will work to get that bill passed through the Senate as soon as possible.
“This announcement is also important for many children affected by the public health crisis in Flint,” Stabenow continued. “We know that good nutrition is critical to helping combat the effect of lead exposure. That’s why I urged Secretary Vilsack to make this important nutrition investment and I thank him and President Obama for making the children and families in Flint a top priority.”
Today’s announcement is great news for the more than 83,000 Michigan students who will now be eligible to participate in the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) for Children program in 2016. Children who participate must be eligible for free and reduced priced meals during the school year and will receive either $30 or $60 per month to spend on specific food items – approved through the WIC program– that helps ensure children continue eating healthy meals while school is out.
Since 2013, Michigan has served as one of six states piloting the Summer EBT program. Building on Michigan’s success with the summer meal program, Stabenow has lead the efforts to expand the program nationally in her bipartisan child nutrition reauthorization bill which passed the Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously in January. That bill is currently waiting for a full Senate vote.
Stabenow has worked to bring much needed federal nutrition programs and nutrition education to aid in Flint’s recovery. In February, following calls by Stabenow to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that it was taking additional steps to help low-income families in Flint. Stabenow has also lead the charge on making sure that ready-to-feed formula is available to mothers in Flint using the WIC program. Ready-to-feed is critical so families do not have to mix infant formula with water.