Thursday morning the Oregon Senate approved legislation to increase the availability of nutritious meals for students during summer breaks. House Bill 4090, which allows additional grants for summer school lunch programs, passed the Senate on a unanimous vote.
“Hunger doesn’t take the summer off,” said Senator Rod Monroe (D-Portland), a sponsor of the bill. “I don’t think our obligation to feed hungry children should end when the school year is over.”
More than half of Oregon students qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch programs. House Bill 4090A would help address this problem by allowing the Oregon Department of Education to award startup grants to more schools and off-campus sites that want to provide summer meals. The bill also increases the cap for these grants from $10,000 to $20,000.
“If we want to help children become healthy and thriving adults, we need to take care of them the whole year, not just when school’s in session,” said Senator Mark Hass (D-Beaverton), who chairs the Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee. “Summer lunch programs ensure that our hungriest children can be fed 52 weeks a year.”
In 2013, the Oregon Legislature approved HB 2729, which provided funding for grants for after school programs. House Bill 4090A improves upon that legislation by allowing schools to spend grant money on summer programs as well as programs during the school year.
The bill now goes to Governor John A. Kitzhaber for his signature.