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Biden summer food program expansion fights child hunger in Wisconsin

Published: May. 2, 2021 at 9:50 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -More than 30 million students in the U.S. will have food to eat during the summer, after the Biden administration expanded a program using funds from the coronavirus relief package approved in March.

Local officials said this new effort could reduce child hunger in Wisconsin.

Thousands of families face this question year round as food insecurity grows when kids are out of school during the summer.

“Families whose children normally participated in a school lunch program or breakfast program have really been hit hard,” said Laura Ford-Harris from Boys and Girls Club of Dane County.

When schools out, she said the need for food increases because breakfast and lunch options are no longer on the table.

“You imagine families having to say ‘well no you can’t eat today or you can’t eat right now, because your brother, your sister, your grandmother needs to eat,” she said.

A federal coronavirus aid program aims to give families some relief.

U.S. officials will continue to dish out payments to eligible kids to make up for school meals adding up to about $375 per child over the summer months.

This includes kids enrolled in free or reduced lunch or those under six years old receiving SNAP benefits.

Children already on SNAP would get the benefits as a supplement to what they already receive.

“The number of kids who were eligible for the free and reduced meal program, just in the 16 counties that are served by Second Harvest, was over 75,000 kids,” Kris Tazelaar, Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin spokesperson said.

He explained poor food nutrition affects kids in many ways ranging from behavior to learning capabilities.

“They struggle to really do a lot of the things that we take for granted. Simply because they don’t have enough nutrients in their bodies,” he said.

Tazelaar said the additional summer food funding will help create a healthier community for kids in Wisconsin.

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