A local lawmaker has introduced a bill to make several improvements to direct certification for free meals without the need for household applications. The School Modernization and Efficient Access to Lunches for Students Act, also known as the School MEALS Act, was proposed by 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes. She says food insecurity among children is morally reprehensible and must be addressed. She wants to prevent hunger from reaching the astronomical levels seen during the height of the pandemic when many parents were out of work. Although Congress responded by strengthening nutrition programs, Hayes says 1 in 5 Connecticut children still experienced food insecurity. Hayes, a former teacher, says she's seen the impact of hunger on student learning and wants children to have the confidence of knowing where their next meal is coming from. In 2020, Hayes says child hunger climbed by six percent in Connecticut.