(CNSNews.com) – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Tuesday that his agency is looking for “creative ways” to give public school students access to more meals, including a way to provide them breakfast, lunch and dinner year round.
“We have focused on efforts to try to figure out ways in which we can expand in those time periods when youngsters may not have access to school meals,” Vilsack said in remarks at the liberal Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. That includes giving students access to meals “across the school day, across the school year and across the calendar year,” he said.
“We’ve looked for creative ways to potentially here in the D.C. area and the state of Virginia an opportunity to take a look at what would happen if all three meals were available for young people,” Vilsack said.
Vilsack spoke ahead of the Sept. 30 expiration date for federally funding the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act of 2010, which pays for USDA’s school meal and child nutrition programs —including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
The programs are generally reauthorized for five-year periods, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.
In April, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced that the number of summer meals provided to children increased by millions between 2012 and 2014.
“In 2013, FNS targeted efforts in five States to improve access to summer meals and, as a result, FNS served seven million more meals than in summer 2012,” the announcement stated. “An additional six States were targeted in summer 2014 and FNS met its goal of serving an additional 10 million meals over summer 2013.”