USDA Extends Child Nutrition Waivers

10/09/2020 - Key child nutrition waivers that provide free, healthy meals to all children will be extended for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today. The Academy applauds USDA for swiftly using the authority and funding given to the agency through the continuing resolution.

Earlier this month the Academy sent nearly 3,000 letters to USDA from member advocates calling for USDA to extend program flexibilities through the end of the school year. The extensions allow child nutrition programs to continue serving through the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option while waiving the area eligibility requirement. These provisions will help reduce barriers to nutritious meals for children and allow child nutrition professionals the flexibility to prepare, serve and distribute meals with limited student interaction—keeping frontline workers and children safe.

The Academy, along with many other nutrition and anti-hunger groups, have been calling for the waivers since the beginning of the summer as food insecurity rates increased and school nutrition professionals reported devastating financial implications from the pandemic closures, including furloughs and skyrocketing deficits. These waiver extensions are an important step in addressing food security and school nutrition program financial health.

The Academy urges Congress to pass a COVID-19 relief stimulus package that includes additional necessary nutrition provisions to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, such as an increase in SNAP benefits and emergency relief funds for school nutrition programs.