Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1) and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (NY-21) introduced the Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act, a bipartisan bill to expand access to nutritious meals for young children. Improvements to the existing Child and Adult Care Food Program would encourage more child care providers to participate, increasing the number of children who benefit.

“Too many hardworking families struggle with food insecurity and with access to high-quality, affordable child care,” Congresswoman Bonamici said. “The Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act will help more families access child care providers who offer nutritious foods that 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,” Congresswoman Stefanik said. “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 a persistent decrease in the number of family day care homes that participate. This drop-off in participation jeopardizes access to nutritious meals for children who spend time with child care providers. At the same time, the program authorizes only two meals each day, even though many working families rely on full-day child care.

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, the bill will encourage more providers to participate in the program. The result will be better, healthier outcomes for children.

The Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act is supported by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Child Care Food Program Roundtable, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), The Food Trust, National Association for Family Child Care, National CACFP Forum, National CACFP Sponsors Association, National Women’s Law Center, NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, and RESULTS: The Power to End Poverty.