ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — To mark the beginning of Hunger Action Month, Congressman Joe Morelle was joined by officials from Foodlink to discuss legislation to provide free school meals to all children in Rochester — regardless of income.

Congressman Morelle said that the purpose of this legislation is to increase food accessibility for families to combat local food insecurity and child hunger.

“Taking action to reduce food insecurity shouldn’t be a political statement — it’s a moral obligation,” Morelle said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass this critical legislation, and continuing to work with organizations like Foodlink to uplift children and families in our community.” 

The new legislation also will give schools the resources necessary to ensure that students won’t go hungry, expand summer meal opportunities, and provide funding for better kitchen equipment at schools.

Provisions such as these, according to officials, existed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but have expired — making this new school year the first time since 2020 that families had to pay for school meals. Foodlink CEO Julia Tedesco said that the changing attitudes in COVID-19 don’t mean food insecurity issues improved.

“Hunger persists throughout the year — Even in these dog days of summer, even as schools come back into session, even amidst Holiday seasons, and even during pandemics,” Tedesco said.

Congressman Morelle is currently running for re-election against former Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary.