This news has been received from: minnpost.com

All trademarks, copyrights, videos, photos and logos are owned by respective news sources. News stories, videos and live streams are from trusted sources.

mail: [NewsMag]

When I was a child living in a refugee camp, I distinctly remember the vacant feeling of going to bed on an empty stomach when my family didn’t have enough food to eat. I remember the weakness, the inability to concentrate and the desperation for it to end.

Recently, I heard from Will, a high school student in my Minneapolis district, who faces similar challenges in a very different context.

The pandemic exacerbated already tight family finances. As a result, he often goes to school without breakfast and finds it difficult to concentrate.  “When I’m in class, my lunch isn’t until 1:00,” he told me. “I’ll just be sitting there like, ‘Oh my gosh, when is lunch gonna come,’ because I haven’t eaten all day.”

No child should go through this.

But at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of families across the country faced a similar crisis. Schools were closed, and on top of that, many parents were without jobs, income or their regular hours at work. Students who previously qualified for free or reduced price school meals were now home and hungry. Many parents were forced to scrape together the funds to afford an extra meal for their kids, in addition to the burden of lost wages and caring for kids full time.

Article continues after advertisement

So in March 2020, I proposed a simple solution: Let schools provide meals at no cost to families. I called it the Maintaining Essential Access to Lunch for Students or MEALS Act (we love acronyms in Congress), and in partnership with the House Education and Labor Committee and Congressional Leadership, we were able to negotiate its inclusion in the bipartisan CARES Act, which passed in March 2020.

The results were a resounding success in Minnesota and across the country. The MEALS Act gives schools the flexibility to make changes to their meal program to ensure their ability to provide meals to students by allowing the increase of federal costs for the purpose of providing meals. Approximately 22 million kids relied on school meals before the pandemic, and it’s estimated that the MEALS Act and resulting waivers helped an additional 10 million get fed. It also kept people employed preparing and delivering food for kids who need it.

But like most issues in Washington, the story isn’t so simple. The program was set to expire at the end of June if Congress didn’t act. Yet, after Senate Republicans threatened to block additional funding for the meals, I was able to work with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and committee chairs on a compromise to extend the meal waivers through the summer. And last Friday the extension passed, ensuring these meals will not expire!

In the midst of horrific decision taking away our basic rights, it’s hard to find hope. But this bill was a shining example of the government working at one if its core functions — making sure the American people don’t go hungry. And it was a reminder that our country can do amazing things when our government works as intended.

But we cannot stop here. Supply chain issues and the rising cost of food are making the hunger crisis worse. Food prices are expected to increase up to 7.5% this year, stretching already tight family budgets. Some 13 million children already faced hunger in our country before the pandemic. Three out of every four teachers say they see students regularly come to school hungry, and a majority of them regularly buy food for students out of their own pockets.

Rep. Ilhan Omar

And we know that getting nutritious meals doesn’t just prevent hunger. It has benefits for a child’s physical and mental development. Studies show that students who show up hungry to class lose the ability to concentrate and have worse academic performance. This can have lifelong consequences.

The only lasting solution is to provide school meals free of charge to any student who wants it — as many districts have done during the pandemic. This would reduce burdensome paperwork requirements and make sure that no child in the wealthiest country in the world goes hungry at school. It’s also overwhelmingly supported by Democrats, Republicans and independents. That’s why I have introduced a bill — along with the support of Sens. Bernie Sanders and Tina Smith and leaders like Valerie Castile — to do just that.

We have an opportunity to prove that a government of the people, by the people and for the people can still deliver big things. We can prevent tens of millions of children across the country from going hungry, and ensure that students, teachers and parents all have the support they need in these difficult times.

Ilhan Omar represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House.

Keep Minnesota news paywall-free.

MinnPost's in-depth, independent news is free for all to access — no paywall or subscriptions. Will you help us keep it this way by supporting our nonprofit newsroom with a tax-deductible donation today?

SUPPORT MINNPOST Want to add your voice?

If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, see our Submission Guidelines.)

News Source: minnpost.com

Tags: topics 2022 election covid 19 at the beginning before the pandemic across the country community voices that students provide meals students for students school meals for students students remember the pandemic millions the support our country

Texas Woman Accused of Offering Migrant a Ride—Then Stealing Her Baby

Next News:

Teen Boy Shot Dead After School In East Orange

A teenage boy was shot and killed outside of a school in Essex County Monday, Oct. 3, officials said.

The boy was shot at Lincoln Street and Park Avenue in East Orange as students after dismissal around 3 p.m., authorities said. It happened near the Edward T. Bowser School of Excellence.

He was rushed to University Hospital in Newark and subsequently pronounced dead.

The incident was being investigated by the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.

Other News

  • Teen Wanted For Murder In Shooting Outside Philadelphia's Roxborough High School
  • Florida parents and doctors revolt after student-athletes asked to report history of menstrual periods
  • California News | Marin school campus will be shelter for unaccompanied migrant youths
  • Crime and Public Safety | Watch: Oakland Police release school shooting surveillance video
  • Christian substitute teacher says she was fired from public school for raising concerns about LBGTQ book shown to elementary students — now shes suing
  • Statesboro High School Fine Arts Department Presents The Aristocats Oct 8 9
  • Girl, 11, killed after being reversed over by truck outside her school in front of horrified pupils in Germany
  • Mum-of-11 shares video of her kitchen urging other to normalise mess after cruel trolls slam the state of her home
  • Ohio High School Football AP Poll
  • Biden gives schools $280 million boost in funding for mental health issues
  • Child Struck By Hit-Run Pickup In South Jersey
  • Mehmet Oz blames gun violence on recreational marijuana, COVID-19 school closures
  • Kardashian fans stunned after Kim’s childhood pal posts rare unedited photo of the star with her non-famous friends
  • Teenager Shot Outside Jeremiah E. Burke High School In Dorchester: Report
  • High School Sports | High school football rankings Week 7, 2022: Bay Area News Group Top 25
  • NJ High School Basketball Player Targeted In Fatal Shooting, Sources Say
  • High School Basketball Player Shot Dead In East Orange
  • High School Sports | Racism sidelines 2 Northern California high school football teams
  • One third of inflation-ravaged U.S. households are skipping meals or cutting portion sizes, and two thirds are strapped for cash, a survey says ahead of midterms elections, with Louisiana and Oklahoma the worst hit