Senate bill would extend free healthy meals for kids during summer months

School education
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US Sense. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined a bipartisan group of their colleagues to present the Support the Children’s Act, not the Red Tapethat would give the USDA additional flexibility so schools and summer meal sites can stay open and improve access to free, healthy meals for kids.

The added flexibility would mean less red tape and more options for families, including allowing families to pick up a week’s worth of meals or have meals delivered to their homes on the school bus.

These flexibilities have been crucial in nurturing students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. While 90% of schools still face many challenges as they resume normal operations, these flexibilities would provide schools with much-needed support to feed children.

“Every child, no matter where they live, deserves nutritious meals,” Warner and Kaine said. “Ensuring school districts have the flexibility and federal resources they need to continue feeding their students is critical to our fight to end child hunger in America. This legislation will help us do that.

The bipartisan Support the Children’s Act, not the Red Tape would like:

  • Extend USDA’s authority to issue waivers from June 30, 2022 to September 30, 2023, which would expand USDA school lunch flexibilities. It is simply a continuation of the authority the USDA has had and exercised throughout the pandemic. This would cover this summer, as well as the entire 2022-2023 school year and summer 2023, and create a transition plan to help schools return to normal school catering operations from October 1, 2023.
  • Ask states to submit a transition plan to the USDA so that schools are prepared and supported as they return to normal operations of the National School Lunch Program after the increased flexibilities end.
  • Direct the Secretary to provide technical assistance to states in drafting transition plans and to school food authorities in meeting meal standards during the waiver period.

Norman D. Briggs