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July 25, 2014

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Dina Titus pushes for ‘Weekends Without Hunger’ bill

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Dina Titus’ time on Capitol Hill is almost concluded, but she’s taking up one last fight, with the help of the House: a bill to help reduce childhood hunger.

The “Weekends Without Hunger” bill, which passed the House by voice vote early this afternoon, is an attempt to bridge the gap between school days, when children usually dependent on nutritional assistance don’t have meals to depend on.

In Nevada, more than 50 percent of school children rely on free or reduced meals to keep them fed, meals that aren’t there over weekends and school vacations.

Titus’ bill would establish a five-year pilot program to outfit schools and food banks with $10 million of food commodities each year: enough for about 3 million food backpacks of the sort that are currently being distributed in Clark County by such centers as Three Square to about 5,200 kids every weekend.

“A vacation from school should not mean hunger for our children,” Titus said on the floor today.

“Almost 20 percent of the people I represent have no work, and that transfers down to their children ... the only meals they are getting ... are the ones they are receiving in school,” added Rep. Shelley Berkley.

Titus’ Weekends Without Hunger program was initially destined for inclusion in the greater child nutrition bill to increase the number of lunches and dinners available through schools and to improve the nutritional content of meals that are provided.

While Titus’ legislation appeared in the House-approved draft, Congress ultimately passed the Senate’s version of the bill, which the president signed into law.

Now that the House has given its stamp of approval to Titus’ program, it remains to be seen whether the Senate plans to take it up on what is already an overlong calendar during the lame duck period. However, if no objections are raised to the bill, it could be approved by unanimous consent — a procedural move that doesn’t require all senators to be present for a voice vote. Traditionally, the end of the lame duck period by a final close-out session in which the party leaders rifle through a bevy of bills that can be approved by unanimous consent.

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