WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown today announced his cosponsorship of the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act, bipartisan legislation that would increase access to summer federal child nutrition programs. According to data released by the Ohio Department of Education, more than 680,000 Ohio children received free or reduced-priced lunch on an average day; however, many students miss out on this nutrition assistance in the summer months.

“Summer break shouldn’t mean a break from good nutrition,” said Brown. “Summer meal programs provide the nutrition assistance for children that they would normally receive in school, ensuring their healthy development and easing the burden on their families. By investing in and improving these critical programs, we can help ensure that Ohio’s children don’t go hungry in the summer months.”

"The Ohio Association of Foodbanks and our partners are working everyday to get critically needed replacement meals to poor children during the summer months when schools are closed,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. “The summer months leave over 800,000 of Ohio's poorest and hungriest kids to suffer needlessly due to outdated service delivery requirements and legislative barriers to reaching kids who live in areas that are isolated economically and geographically. We look forward to working with Senator Brown and others to archive real solutions and reforms that modernize child nutrition programs and work to end childhood hunger in 2015. Hungry children can't wait! We urge support for comprehensive Child Nutrition Reauthorization provisions without debated."

“After seeing firsthand the need for access to healthy and nutritious foods in our communities, ProMedica commends Senator Brown on his continued commitment to expanding access to all of those in need across Ohio,” said Randy Oostra, president and CEO of ProMedica.

The Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act would authorize summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) to supplement existing summer nutrition assistance programs, and give states the option of providing eligible families with up to $30 per summer month per child to purchase eligible food items. In United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) pilot programs, Summer EBT reduced the most severe forms of food insecurity for children by 33 percent.

Last year, more than 3.8 million meals were served around Ohio in the summer months through the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). While there are more than 1,500 SFSP sites across Ohio this summer, 16 percent of children from low-income families in the U.S. live in communities that are unable to operate an open summer meals site. The Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act would expand this program’s reach by allowing states to provide summer meals without a centralized feeding site for reasons including a need for summer meals in a rural area not eligible to operate open summer meals sites, severe weather, and public safety concerns.

While serving as chair of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Hunger, Nutrition, and Family Farms, Brown wrote the Hunger-Free Schools Act, which would help reduce paperwork and enroll already-eligible students in childhood nutrition programs through direct certification. Brown’s bill was the centerpiece of the anti-hunger component of a new law enacted in 2010, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids ActDuring Agriculture Committee consideration of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, Brown successfully passed two amendments to the legislation. One of those amendments, a bipartisan piece of legislation offered with Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), ensures greater access to summer feeding programs for children.