Advocate for the Needs of At-Risk Children

Children’s Hunger Alliance educates lawmakers about childhood hunger in Ohio and its devastating consequences on our children and communities.

On behalf of Ohio’s children, our staff:

  • Meet with local, state, and federal lawmakers and their staff to brief them on childhood hunger issues and solutions;
  • Communicate with the Governor’s office regarding hunger issues;
  • Testify before committees to advocate strongly on issues; and
  • Engage state and federal agencies, especially regarding how child nutrition laws are being implemented.

The goal of our public policy work is to encourage state and federal leaders to refine public policy and ensure that every child has access to healthy food, quality child care, and safe afterschool environments; as well as the opportunity to learn about proper nutrition and the benefits of physical activity.

We also work with local program partners and school districts to ensure they are maximizing their use of federal nutrition programs that are proven to help improve childhood wellness by reducing hunger, improving overall nutrition and reducing obesity.

Contact Scott Neely, Director, Government Affairs at sneely@childrenshungeralliance.org or call 614-643-8005 for more information.

Call or write a letter to your elected officials about childhood hunger in Ohio.

Find your elected state house representative.

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Find your U.S. congress representative.

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Child Nutrition Legislation Update

State Issues

Senate Bill 247:  Sponsors Senators Edna Brown and Peggy Lehner

Description:  SB-247 sets the stage, under certain circumstances, for an outside organization to use the school as a summer meal site.  SB-247 impacts only schools in high-need areas that elect not to offer a summer meal program sponsored by the school.  A high-need area is defined under the federal SFSP program as a school attendance area in which 50% or more of the children qualify for a free/reduced price meal.  SB-247 will help increase access to summer meals, while protecting the school by:

  1. Opening the school site for summer meal service by an interested and Ohio Department of Education approved summer meal sponsor when a school in high-need attendance areas chooses not to offer its own program.
  2. Permitting the school to charge the outside sponsor a reasonable fee to cover costs associated with making the facility available, such as the cost of custodial services, utilities and equipment use.
  3. Requiring the outside provider to either become a named insured under the school’s liability insurance or demonstrate that it has a liability insurance policy of its own at a level approved by the school.

Status: Unanimous Senate passage on May 25, 2016.  No current opposition.  Major school groups in support.  Bill was assigned to House Education Committee on November 10.  Children’s Hunger Alliance is working towards passage in the fall of 2016 (post-election) session. 

Federal Issues

Child Nutrition Reauthorization:

Description: The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act authorizes all of the federal child nutrition programs, including the School Breakfast, National School Lunch, Child and Adult Care Food, Summer Food Service, and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Programs and WIC. These programs provide funding to ensure that low-income children have access to healthy and nutritious foods where they live, play, and learn. Congress reviews these programs through the reauthorization process.

Status:   The Senate Agriculture Committee released its reauthorization bill in January 2016, titled “The Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016” The House voted its bill entitled “Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016”(H.R. 5003) out of committee on May 18th.  The House bill includes a three state block grant pilot for the school meal programs, a provision which Children’s Hunger Alliance and other food advocacy groups have expressed serious concerns regarding.  Neither the House nor Senate has approved legislation reauthorizing the various federal child nutrition programs.  While the Senate may consider its legislative proposal in a post-election Lame Duck session the House proposal has yet to be approved by committee,  it seems more likely that reauthorization of these programs will be carried over into the next Congress.

Learn About the Impact of Childhood Hunger in Our Communities

More than 885,000 Qualify for School Meals but more than 575,000 do not eat breakfast at school resulting in unclaimed federal funds. (1)

  • 25% = Families report they did not have enough money to buy the food they need. (2)
  • 35% = 3rd graders considered to be overweight or obese. (3) Obesity is a symptom of hunger.

Hungry Children Cannot Learn

  • Hungry children are twice as likely to receive special education services doubling the cost of their education.(4)
  • Hungry children are twice as likely to repeat a grade. The cost of educating a child retained in a grade, and receiving special education services, can be nearly 4 times as much as other children. (4)
  • Children from homes without enough food have significantly lower reading and math scores. (5, 6)
  • Hungry children are more likely to have problems with absenteeism and behavior. (7)
  • As teenagers they are twice as likely to have seen a psychologist and twice as likely to have been suspended from school. (6)
  • Children having difficult social interaction, lower grades and repeating a grade are at greater risk of dropping out (7) resulting in lost earning power – $500,000 less than a high school graduate, $2 million less than a college graduate. (9)
  • Young children from food insecure homes are 3.4 times more likely to be obese by age 4.5. Obese adolescents are more likely to perceive themselves as below average students and boys are more likely to quit school. (10) The estimated cost of obesity-related disease management for 6-17 year-olds in 2003 was $127 million. (11)
  • Pre-school children living in food insecure homes are more likely to suffer Early Childhood Caries, a dental disease. (12) Treatment can cost $1,500 – $6,000 per child – $38 million/year, nationally for children through age 17. (13)

Child Nutrition Programs Are the Solution

  • Proper nutrition during the formative years, birth to 5, improves health and readiness to learn. (14, 15) CACFP assists family childcare providers to ensure that pre-school children have nutritious meals to eat while in daycare.
  • Eating nutritious foods and increased physical activity reduce the likelihood of childhood obesity. The Healthy Kids – Healthy Schools collaborative is assisting schools to improve the nutritional quality of foods served at school and increase opportunities for physical activity within the school day.
  • Eating breakfast, particularly a school breakfast, improves performance on demanding mental tasks, behavior and attendance (16) – all key indicators on Ohio’s school report card. The National School Lunch Program offers opportunities for students to eat breakfast and lunch at school.

More than $56 million/year in additional USDA reimbursements could be generated by increasing participation in the school breakfast program. 


(1) Ohio Dept. of Education, (2) Gallup Survey, (3) Ohio Dept. of Health, (4) Shelly – 2004, (5) Jyoti – 2005, (6) Alaimo – 2001, (7) Murphy – 1998, (8) Population Survey 2007, (9) Boston Youth Transitions Taskforce – 2006, (10) Dubois – 2006, (11) Goran – 2003, (12) Beltran-Aguilar – 2005, (13) Vargas – 2006, (14) Burden – 2007, (15) Lozoff – 2003, (16) Bellisle – 2004