Wednesday, October 14, 2020

USDA to extend free school-meal waivers through June

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday that it will extend regulatory waivers that allow schools to serve free meals until the end of the school year in June.

"The department is allowing the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Options to continue through June 30, 2021, essentially letting school cafeterias serve any student for free without checking their qualifications for free or subsidized meals," Ryan McCrimmon reports for Politico's Weekly Agriculture. "They also have more flexibility to meet nutritional standards and other requirements."

After bipartisan pressure, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue agreed in August to extend the programs through the end of 2020, but said the USDA couldn't go any further without more funding, McCrimmon reports. So Congress gave the USDA the authority and funding to extend the waivers in a recent spending bill.

However, "despite the flexibility provided by USDA for months, there’s been a notable drop in the number of meals served to students, and the School Nutrition Association says Congress still must allocate more money for the feeding programs," McCrimmon reports.

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