Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has introduced legislation to help combat hunger by expanding eligibility to free and reduced-price meals in schools.
The Caregivers, Access, and Responsible Expansion for Kids Act of 2021 (CARE for Kids Act) is a bipartisan bill to support millions of children who are being raised by grandparents or other relatives and those eligible for meals through Medicaid participation.
The bill would expand meal access to millions of children around the country who are cared for by relatives other than their parents. It would ensure that school districts can provide automatic eligibility for children who have been displaced from their homes due to COVID-19, the opioid crisis, and other hardships.
“Having been raised by my grandmother, I am personally aware that the nuclear family has changed. Children in foster care, adopted, extended relative-care, or in-state guardianship need uninterrupted access to school meals programs with automatic eligibility and certification,” said Hayes. “The CARE for Kids Act, compounds efforts toward ending child hunger, while providing support for families. This is a solution which immediately supports children in these circumstances in need of basic nutrition.”
Children being raised by relatives who are not their legal guardians can struggle to qualify for free or reduced-price meals when they are not able to provide documentation of their legal guardians’ income. The bill would give schools the option to provide automatic eligibility to children who are
- cared for by a relative who receives adoption or guardianship assistance,
- cared for by a relative due to placement by a welfare agency,
- living in a low-income housing development with a grandparent or other older relative,
- automatically eligible for free meals through Medicaid participation but are not able to be certified,
- receiving reduced-price or free meals prior to being placed under the care of a grandparent or other relative.