Academy Applauds USDA Child Nutrition Waiver Extensions; Calls for Extensions Through SY 2020-21

Today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture will extend several flexibilities through as late as December 31, 2020. The flexibilities allow summer meal program operators to continue serving free meals to all children into the fall months.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service is extending a suite of nationwide waivers for the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option through the end of 2020, or until available funding runs out. This includes:

  1. Allowing SFSP and SSO meals to be served in all areas and at no cost.
  2. Permitting meals to be served outside of the typically required group settings and meal times.
  3. Waiving meal pattern requirements as necessary.
  4. Allowing parents and guardians to pick-up meals for their children.

In a recent action alert, the Academy called for USDA to extend critical waivers through school year 2020-21 and more than 2,000 people took action. Today's announcement is a first step in the right direction. However, Academy members working in schools indicate that these extensions must be provided for the entire school year to ensure children will have access to healthy meals while keeping frontline workers safe. It is particularly important to give school nutrition professionals, producers and industry enough time to properly plan and execute school nutrition service in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and variable learning environments.

The Academy will continue to advocate and support school nutrition efforts and asks USDA to extend the waivers through June 30, 2021.