(Senate - June 20, 2012)

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[Pages S4359-S4360]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                            CHILD NUTRITION

  Mr. BROWN of Ohio. Mr. President, for many Ohio children, schools 
have let out for the year, and summer vacation is just beginning. 
During the school year, in my State--a State of about 11 million 
people--840,000 Ohio children receive some nutrition assistance through 
free or reduced-price school lunches or breakfasts during the school 
year. It is a statistic that tells the story of families struggling to 
get by. In many of these children's cases their parents have jobs but 
simply are not making enough money. It is a statistic that tells a 
story of how children are often helpless victims in a challenging 
economy. Many of these children come from the 18 percent of Ohio 
families--about 1 out of 6--who are food insecure. Essentially it means 
they are unsure where their next meal may actually come from. When the 
school year comes to a close, many of these children go hungry.
  Where can these 840,000 students go? Where do they turn for 
nutritious meals when their school cafeterias are closed for the 
summer? The answer is the Summer Food Service Program run through the 
U.S. Department of Education and administered in my State by the Ohio 
Department of Education. For Ohio parents and guardians and school 
administrators, the Summer Food Service Program is available for them 
to find healthy meals for children during the summer. But too many Ohio 
families don't know about this critical program, and that is why it is 
so important to raise awareness and increase access to the program for 
all Ohio children regardless of where they live. Summer break shouldn't 
mean a break from good nutrition.
  At the beginning of this talk, I mentioned that 840,000 Ohio children 
benefit from free and reduced school breakfast and lunch programs--
840,000. But, unfortunately, last year in the

[[Page S4360]]

summer only 66,000 Ohio children utilized the Summer Food Service 
Program. Only 66,000 when there are 800,000 eligible. I believe last 
year Ohio was slightly above the national average. So in State after 
State, of those students who were benefiting from the free and reduced-
price breakfasts and lunches at the school, less than 10 percent of 
those children benefit in the summer.
  In Ohio, only 66,000 children utilize this program. Obviously 
hundreds of thousands need to receive nutrition assistance during the 
school year. Ensuring that our children have access to healthy food 
during the summer is so important, especially as more families slip 
into poverty. The Summer Food Program is a vital program that helps 
stem the crippling cycle of food insecurity by providing school-aged 
children breakfast, lunch, or a snack during the summer.
  In some sites children can receive these meals while participating in 
educational activities or organized games. The Presiding Officer was a 
superintendent of one of the great school districts in the country. We 
know particularly how low-income students during summer months slide 
back in their educational attainment. In the beginning of the school 
year, the teachers have to sort of reteach what was taught perhaps in 
April and May. We also know that in families with a little higher 
income, the children often have activities in the summer which include 
exposure to books, magazines, vacations, and cultural events to help 
those children continue to advance in the summer.
  Many of these students who are not getting proper nutrition in the 
summer also are not getting the educational challenges they need. That 
is why at these sites children--while they receive these meals--
participate in educational activities or organized games. The good news 
is there are more sites this year for Ohio families to turn to. There 
are more than 1,700 sites across 77 counties.
  Nonetheless, 11 counties out of the 88 in Ohio still lack feeding 
sites. It is not too late for program sites to be established. The 
official deadline was May 31. Interested sponsors and volunteers can 
still work with the Ohio Department of Education to establish new 
centers for children to get meals.
  Understand the difficulty here. Somebody needs to step forward, such 
as a teacher, an administrator, someone in the school district, someone 
in a church, someone in a recreation center of some type has to step 
forward every May or June and set up one of these programs and take it 
down again in August or September. So it is unlike the school district 
which has this built into its process.
  At existing sites, such as schools, summer camps, churches, community 
centers, and recreation centers, volunteers spend their time ensuring 
our children have the food they need to succeed.
  The Federal Government will reimburse local groups small amounts of 
money for the breakfast, snack, or lunch for these children, but 
volunteers need to come forward.
  Two years ago I co-hosted a first-of-its-kind hunger summit at the 
Mid-Ohio Foodbank in Columbus with leading antihunger advocates across 
Ohio. This past year the USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon came to 
Ohio to hold the second summit.
  We continue to reach out to organizations such as the AmeriCorps and 
VISTA Summer Association Partnership that can help with volunteers 
through AmeriCorps and can set up the programs and provide meals to the 
children in need.
  This summer will be an important few months to learn how far we have 
come and how far we have to go in serving our State's children. 
Outreach and public awareness are critical components to ensure that 
the end of the school year doesn't mean the end of children getting the 
nutrition they need for the summer.
  I yield the floor, and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk called the roll.
  Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, before going into wrap-up and the 
unanimous consent requests this evening, I wish to say one more time 
how appreciative I am of everybody's hard work and patience with us. We 
made tremendous progress on a very important bill that helps 16 million 
people in this country have a job and keeps the safest, most affordable 
food system in the world going. So thanks to everyone. Thanks to my 
ranking member who has been a terrific partner with me.