8464381123_a43346c04d_cAs summer vacation comes to a close and schoolchildren across the country prepare for another year filled with opportunity, our nation’s leaders are doing the same in Washington D.C.

When Congress returns from August recess this week, policymakers will have a wealth of opportunities to seize—including the potential to strengthen and expand a number of important legislative initiatives directly impacting millions of those same kids sitting in classrooms from coast to coast. One of these legislative opportunities is the Child Nutrition Act (CNA), which has provided federally assisted meal programs for children across the country since 1966.

Nutrition plays a crucial role in promoting early childhood development and improved health outcomes for kids, and the funding provided by the CNA is critical to providing children—especially those living in poverty—with the consistent and nutritious meals they need.

Recently, the First Five Years Fund sent a letter to the leadership of the Senate Committee on Agriculture to express just how important the program is to our nation’s children, their families and our country’s long-term educational and economic vitality. A long proponent of CNA, FFYF supports strengthening and modernizing provisions of the act to more effectively meet the needs of today’s children.

Included in these recommendations are:

  • Increasing access to CNA funding by reducing the program’s area eligibility test to forty percent of residents living below the federal poverty line
  • Expanding resources to cover three meals per day for program participants at all sites and increasing reimbursement rates
  • Transitioning from a paperwork system to a modernized digital technology platform
  • Expanding the supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • Improving integration and alignment of childcare investments and programs with WIC broadly

The full letter can be read here.