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President Obama’s New Proposal Would Help Fund Summer Food Program for Low-Income Families

The Super Food Express bus travels to schools in Mobile County, Ala., to ensure children are fed healthy meals when school is out of session. The bus is part of the USDA's summer food program, which President Obama says needs additional funding. (USDA)
The Super Food Express bus travels to schools in Mobile County, Ala., to ensure children are fed healthy meals when school is out of session. The bus is part of the USDA’s summer food program, which President Obama says needs additional funding. (USDA)

President Barack Obama has proposed changes that would make it easier for children who are are getting free and subsidized meals to receive food aid during the summer months. Children who qualify for these programs usually get the meals at school, but it becomes difficult to service them when school is out.

The Obama administration is proposing giving families who qualify for food aid an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card that qualifies them for $45 per child each month during the summer.

According to NPR, government meal programs served only 3.8 million people during the summer. Twenty two million children received subsidized meals during the school year.

According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, use of subsidized meals program drops during the summer months, because children of low-income families often have trouble getting to churches and libraries, places that offer subsidized meals.

“The president is suggesting the time has come to make a longer term, permanent commitment to making sure that all kids have access to meals during the summer,” said Vilsack.

The new proposal could benefit many Black families, which are often headed by single mothers. Since most of these families are surviving on one income, many of them are living in poverty. As Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has said, even two-income families are having a hard time making ends meet as wages have not kept up with inflation. Hunger is becoming a major problem in America. USA Today reported that a Hunger in America study found 25 percent of the people who use food banks were Black.

“The results are alarming,” said Bob Aiken, chief executive officer of Feeding America in a USA Today article. “It means that people in America have to make trade-offs. They have to pick between buying food for their children or paying for utilities, rent and medicine.”

The Obama administration’s new proposal is expected to cost $12 billion over the next 10 years, according to NPR. However, it is likely to run into opposition from the Republican-controlled Congress.

House Speaker John Ryan has said that he believes food aid programs encourage people to stay on welfare.

“I’d combine a lot of them and send that money back to the states for better poverty-fighting solutions: Require everyone who can to work. Let states and communities try different ideas. And then test the results,” said Ryan in a speech last month.

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