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Child Nutrition Programs

For more than 40 years, Child Nutrition programs such as school meals, the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), and the Child and Adult Care Program (CACFP) have helped ensure children facing hunger have enough to eat—and the programs must be strengthened to curb growing child hunger.

What’s at Stake?

In early 2020, the pandemic began to spread across the United States, resulting in an economic downturn that has ended years of declining rates of food insecurity, especially among children. Due to COVID-19, Feeding America projects that 42 million people (1 in 8 people), including 13 million children (1 in 6 children), may experience food insecurity in 2021. 

For more than 40 years, Child Nutrition programs have provided a critical safeguard against hunger, but they are only effective when they reach the children who need help. Feeding America is working with our food bank network and partners to ensure Child Nutrition programs remain strong and that children and their families are centered in our work. Feeding America works with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and others involved in implementing programs to simplify operations to make it easier for children to access meals and for schools and community providers to operate programs. 

Feeding America is also focused on opportunities to improve the health of millions of our nation’s children. By passing strong Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) legislation that strengthens Child Nutrition programs, especially during out-of-school times when children are hard to reach, we can help ensure children have the nutrition they need to thrive.

What’s Feeding America Doing?


Fast Facts 

  • Nationwide, fewer than 4 million children received food assistance through a summer feeding program in the summer of 2019—less than 74 percent of the kids that relied on free or reduced-price school lunches during the school year.
  • Overall child nutrition meal distribution increased by 27 percent, or 43.4 million meals, in Federal Fiscal Year 2020, based on Feeding America data from food banks across the country.
  • Congregate feeding programs that used flexibilities afforded by federal and/or state waivers increased food distribution by 160 percent on average, compared to the 11 percent decrease in food distribution experienced by feeding programs that did not use or did not have access to federal or state program waivers. 

Our Experts

Monica Gonzales

Director, Congressional Relations

Robert Campbell

Vice President, Policy

Corey Malone-Smolla

Director, Policy – Commodities