Two state lawmakers urged New York's U.S. senators on Wednesday to include money to combat child hunger and poverty as part of the $3.5 trillion domestic spending proposal meant to strengthen the nation's social safety net.
The push from lawmakers to U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand comes as negotiations over the bill have continued to drag on, with no clear resolution among Democrats in the narrowly divided House and U.S. Senate.
The programs backed by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal and state Sen. Anna Kaplan would expand a program that provides access to food benefits during the summer months for children when schools are closed, as well as a program that serves meals to students without charge and without requiring them to apply for free or reduced-price meals.
“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to end child hunger and poverty,” said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, the chairwoman of the Assembly Committee on Social Services. “We have seen that it takes very little to lift whole families out of poverty. Including these vital anti-hunger and anti-poverty provisions in the Build Back Better Plan would have a transformational impact on families in need.”
They also want to extend the child tax credit, a proposal that has been a cornerstone for many lawmakers and advocates during the negotiations over the domestic plan.
All told, 52 members of the Legislature signed onto the letter to Schumer and Gillibrand backing the funding push at the federal level.
“During the pandemic, we witnessed the power of the federal government to dramatically reduce child poverty and hunger through smart, targeted investment in programs that work, and as Congress considers the Build Back Better Plan, it’s critical that we expand these programs and make them permanent," Kaplan said. "We owe it to the children in our community to get this done, and I urge our Congressional delegation to ensure that it does."