Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will once again administer what he called “a critical program”, that has helped fight hunger among children in Oregon, during summer months.

Merkley said every child in Oregon “deserves nutritious meals all year long”. He said when schools close for summer, tens of thousands of families struggle to keep food on the table for their kids. Merkley said he fought to push the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reverse course on their limits to the program.

Susanna Morgan, CEO of the Oregon Food Bank said one in five children in Oregon are food insecure. She said her organization is “thrilled that the proven, effective Summer EBT program will once again be available to fight hunger when school is out”.

His release said Merkley has been a strong proponent of the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer program since it was founded in 2011. The release said the program gives families with children additional resources to buy food throughout the summer and has helped almost 72,000 children in over 45,000 households across 27 of Oregon’s 36 counties.