USDA extends free school meals until June 2022
Extended child nutrition program waivers give providers the flexibility to ensure children have continued access to free school meals until June 30, 2022, regardless of their ability to pay.
The extension, announced Tuesday, is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s plan to reopen schools safely.
The Summer Food Service Program and other children’s nutrition programs help fill the meal gaps left by school closings.
“The success of students in the classroom goes hand in hand with their ability to access basic needs such as healthy and nutritious meals,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a declaration on the USDA website. “It is critical that our efforts to reopen schools quickly and safely include programs that provide access to free, healthy meals to our most vulnerable students, especially those whose communities have been hit hardest. pandemic.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a declaration that states and districts had called for the extension to help them plan for a safe reopening in the fall.
“The USDA will remain relentless in making sure our nation’s children receive the essential nutrition they need,” said Vilsack. “USDA has answered the call to help US schools and child care facilities serve high quality meals while meeting their local needs as children safely return to their regular activities. ”
Participating schools will also receive higher-than-normal meal reimbursements, which the USDA says will help them serve children with the most nutritious meals possible while managing the increased costs associated with the challenges of the pandemic.
“It’s a win-win for kids, parents and schools,” Vilsack said.
This plan also allows for flexible meal times and allows parents or guardians to eat their children’s meals when school programs were not functioning normally.
- The seamless summer option allows schools to serve free meals to all children, regardless of their location, in a streamlined fashion between the regular school year and out-of-school hours;
- The zone eligibility waiver allows sites located in areas that would not normally meet the eligibility threshold to provide meals and waives zone eligibility for family child care;
- The flexibility of the meal models allows the requirements of the meal models to be met in specific situations;
- The non-congregational exemption allows take-out meals, which are generally not permitted under the summer foodservice program
- The Meal Service Hours exemption allows multiple meals to be served at a time and meals to be served outside of standard meal times;
- The parent / guardian pickup waiver allows a parent or guardian to take home meals for the children.
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