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October 23, 2016
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Gillibrand, local officials address childhood hunger

Sullivan County legislative chairman, Scott Samuelson, left, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, chef Andy Yeomans and Town of Thompson supervisor Bill Rieber attend a press conference at Town of Thompson Park.
TRR photo by Carol Montana

Gillibrand’s “Summer Meals Act” would expand access by “lowering the threshold to allow areas with 40% or more of students receiving free or reduced lunch to be eligible for the program.” Passage of the bill would result in expanding eligibility to six Sullivan County school districts: Liberty, Fallsburg, Sullivan West, Eldred, Livingston Manor and Monticello.

This legislation would also reduce the paperwork burden for private-public partnerships who want to participate in the program, provide children with transportation to the summer meals sites, and would also offer an additional meal to children who attend evening programs.

Speaking to reporters after her public remarks, Gillibrand said, “I think this should be a national priority. It infuriates me that too many of my colleagues lack the empathy to understand what it’s like to not have enough food in someone’s home. I’m going to work very hard to get the bipartisan support I need to fund this.… I’m hopeful that, on this bipartisan basis, we can get the resources we need, so more kids in a county like Sullivan County can get access to the program.… It’s a long-term solution. We basically want to change the meal programs so that more communities are eligible for all three meals. We’re hoping to make food accessible year-round, period. Not make it so complex, not make it so difficult.”

When asked what she would say to colleagues who may be against the bill because it costs too much money and there’s no way to pay for it, Gillibrand responded, “I think they have the wrong priorities, and every bit of spending in any federal government budget is about your priorities. And I think feeding hungry children has to be among the top priorities of government investment.”