WASHINGTON, DC – During National School Breakfast Week, Congresswomen Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) introduced the Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act, a bipartisan bill to expand access to nutritious meals for young children. The bill improves the existing Child and Adult Care Food Program by better supporting families who rely on full-day child care and reducing paperwork for providers.
“Too many hardworking families struggle with food insecurity and with access to high-quality, affordable child care,” said Congresswoman Bonamici, the Vice Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “The Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act will help more families access child care providers who offer nutritious foods, which are essential to children’s healthy development and long-term success. I am glad to partner with Congresswoman Stefanik to expand a program that helps provide nutrition to millions of young children every day.”
“By expanding access to nutritious food, our nation’s children can live happier, healthier lives,” said Congresswoman Stefanik, a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “Our government must do more to ensure all children have access to nutritious food. The Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act is a bipartisan, commonsense measure to increase access and I am proud to work with Congresswoman Bonamici on this important bill.”
The Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act makes changes to the existing Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which reimburses child care providers, Head Start programs, homeless shelters, and afterschool programs that serve nutritious meals to eligible children and adults. Each day, more than three million children and 100,000 adults receive meals through the program.
Since the mid-1990s, the CACFP program has seen an ongoing decrease in the number of family day care homes that participate. This drop-off in participation jeopardizes access to nutritious meals for children and families in many communities. At the same time, the program allows only two meals each day, even though many working families rely on child care for eight or more hours.
The Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act aims to increase participation by reducing paperwork, streamlining eligibility requirements, and promoting clearer guidelines for providers. The bill also authorizes reimbursements for a third meal in a day. Providers will be able to be reimbursed for offering nutritious late-afternoon meals to children who are in care for more than eight hours. By streamlining compliance measures and adding a third meal, more children will gain access to the nutritious meals. The result will be better, healthier outcomes for children.
The Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act is supported by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC); American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); National Women’s Law Center; National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC); ZERO TO THREE; Early Care and Education Consortium; RESULTS: The Power to End Poverty; Common Sense Kids Act; Child Care Aware of America; National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC); National CACFP Forum; Child Care Food Program Roundtable; and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).