Titus goes to bat again for hungry kids

cafeteria lunch line
Free and reduced lunches at school are a key source of nutrition for Nevada children. But they don't help on the weekends. (Photo credit: CCSD)
cafeteria lunch line
Free and reduced lunches at school are a key source of nutrition for Nevada children. But they don’t help on the weekends. (Photo credit: CCSD)

For close to two-thirds of Clark County students, the free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches they receive at school may be the most nutritious meals, or even their primary source of food, throughout the week.

“That’s more than 203,000 students who face hunger at home and come to school unprepared to learn,” says Rep. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas. “When they’re not in school, far too many students across the United States go hungry over the summer, on weekends, and on school holidays.”

At 44 Clark County schools, 100 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.  Statewide, 58 percent or 254,892 students qualify for the meals, according to the state.

Titus is once again asking Congress to bridge the hunger gap for students by supporting the Weekends Without Hunger Act.

“This legislation will fill a gap in federal programming to ensure that a vacation from school doesn’t mean hunger for our children,” Titus said in a release Wednesday.

The bill would establish a five-year pilot program that provides commodities to schools and food banks.

“Three Square is extremely fortunate to have the support of Congresswoman Titus who advocates for policy that positively affects hunger relief efforts in Southern Nevada,” said Brian Burton, President and CEO of Three Square Food Bank. If passed “the Weekends Without Hunger Act will provide children with the food they need most to bridge the hunger gap when they are not in school.”

Three Square distributed more than 168,000 “weekend bags” during the 2017-18 school year. The program would be evaluated by the Secretary of Agriculture.

This is the fourth time Titus has introduced the measure. It passed the House once, a decade ago when Democrats controlled the House. But the legislation has gone nowhere since.

The latest iteration of the legislation is currently without a price tag, according to Titus’s legislative director Ben Rosenbaum.

The bill would expand eligible institutions to include summer food service programs as well as child and adult care food programs. It would also define an at-risk school child as one who is eligible to participate in the school lunch or breakfast program.

Why not wait for the 116th session and a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives?

“The Congresswoman wants to lay a marker down for the next Congress,” Rosenbaum told the Current.

Dana Gentry
Reporter | Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana is the mother of four adult children, three cats, three dogs and a cockatoo.

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