May 13, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) is cosponsoring the Caregivers Access and Responsible Expansion (CARE) for Kids Act of 2021, which would expand free school meal eligibility for the many children who currently live with grandparents or other caregivers – a phenomenon that has accelerated in recent years due to crises like the opioid epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation would provide significant financial relief for grandparents or caregivers who unexpectedly become caregivers for displaced youth, and ensure that vulnerable young Americans have access to a steady source of nutrition.
“Every single child deserves access to healthy, nutritious meals – no matter their age, economic status, or household situation,” said Senator King. “However, in recent years too many children have been forced to grapple with food insecurity as they are displaced from their parents and their new caregivers struggle to stretch their monthly budget. This crisis has grown due to a combination of serious societal challenges, including the toll of the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing opioid epidemic. The challenge is deadly serious, but the solution is within our grasp – Congress should pass this bill to ensure that every child in need can access the critical resources of school meal programs.”
School meals programs provide automatic eligibility and certification for free meals for children in foster care but the same automatic authorization does not apply to similar groups of vulnerable children being raised by grandparents or other relatives. To support more children facing food insecurity, the CARE for Kids Act would ensure that local education agencies can also provide automatic eligibility for children in these living arrangements.
Senator King is also a cosponsor of the Summer Meals Act, which would expand eligibility and participation for summer meal programs. The legislation would also facilitate program administration and improve access to these critical programs in hard to reach areas, including rural and underserved communities.
The CARE For Kids Act is endorsed by the Council of Administrators of Special Education, the National Education Association, the American Association of School Administrators, and Feeding America.