Tuesday Morning - June 28, 2022

1 big thing—SNA Member Town Hall with USDA Secretary Vilsack

Illustration of a line of hands raised up in the air.

What’s new: SNA members are invited to a live, virtual town hall meeting with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Thursday, June 30, at 11:00 am Eastern.

Go deeper: The Keep Kids Fed Act passed by Congress over the weekend will provide much-needed support to child nutrition programs. But USDA is acutely aware that schools across the country will still face ongoing challenges. Secretary Vilsack requested this forum to share how USDA intends to continue standing firmly with those working on the frontlines to serve healthy meals to students and to hear your concerns and questions.

What’s next: Register for the town hall meeting.

2. U.S. Congress passes The Keep Kids Fed Act

Our Nation’s Capital

What’s new: The Keep Kids Fed Act of 2022 has passed, effective summer 2022 and SY2022-23. While SNA continued to advocate for an extension of all federal waivers, the compromise struck for SY2022-23 will provide crucial additional reimbursement to support school nutrition programs and the students they serve. 

Go deeper: Although a provision to provide reduced-price eligible students with free meals was removed during Senate debate, the package still provides the following assistance through SY2022-23:  

  • Increase federal reimbursements for every school lunch by 40 cents and every school breakfast by 15 cents, above the annual inflationary adjustment scheduled for July 1  

  • Extend no-cost waivers, including those for schools unable to meet nutrition standards due to supply chain disruptions and to reduce administrative and reporting burdens     

  • Extend waivers for 2022 summer meal programs   

Big picture: SNA's 2022 Position Paper , released in January, called on Congress to extend pandemic-related child nutrition waivers to ensure students have access to free, healthy school meals despite persistent supply chain, food cost and labor burdens. With the loss of waivers imminent, SNA urged swift passage of the compromise released earlier this week. 

What’s next: We will continue to monitor for challenges and advocate with Congress and USDA for necessary support. Stay tuned for updates! 

3. The House Appropriations Committee releases FY2023 report


What’s new: The House Appropriations Committee released its report to accompany the Fiscal Year 2023 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. 

Why it matters: The report proposes an increase of $2 billion from the previous fiscal year. $28.6 billion is being allocated for child nutrition programs, which includes:  

💰$15 million for School Lunch Program 

💰$6 million for School Breakfast Program 

💰$7 million for Special Milk Program 

💰$40 million for school meals equipment grants 

💰$12 million for Farm to School Grants 

💰$10 million for School Breakfast Expansion Grants 

What’s next: The House Appropriation Committee passed the FY2023 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill on June 23. The Senate is expected to begin its markup of this bill in July. 


4. Additional Medicaid Direct Certification Demonstration Projects

USDA logo

What’s new: USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will conduct additional demonstration projects to expand the evaluation of Direct Certification with Medicaid (DC-M) for free and reduced-price meal eligibility. 

Go deeper: State agencies that are not already approved to participate, and State agencies that are participating in existing free price meal demonstration projects and would also like to participate in reduced price meal demonstrations, may apply. 

What’s next: Applications are due Sept. 30, 2022, for demonstration projects beginning on July 1, 2023, for SY2023-24. Go to USDA’s website for more information and to apply. 


5. Assistance from USDA for SFAs to determine eligibility

What’s new: The USDA has published a memo to assist School Food Authorities (SFAs) to determine eligibility for severe need and two cent differential reimbursement.  

Go deeper: Schools are eligible for severe need breakfast reimbursement rates if 40 percent or more of NSLP lunches served to students at school during the second preceding school year were at the free or reduced-price rate.

  • Schools are eligible for the two-cent differential if 60 percent or more of the NSLP lunches served in the second preceding school year were at the free or reduced-price rate.

  • The memo outlines specific guidelines for schools that do not have complete data needed to determine eligibility because they participated in SFSP and/or SSO during SY2020-21 and/or SY2021-22 under the nationwide waivers. See the memo for further instruction. 

6. State legislative update

Map of US

The Connecticut General Assembly has passed legislation allocating 30 million dollars for “Free School Meals for Children.”

  • School Meals Assistance Revenue for Transition (SMART) funds will allow school food authorities that participated in the Seamless Sumer Option of the NSLP in SY2021-22 to continue to provide meals at no cost to all students, giving households more time to submit free and reduced-price meals applications for SY2022-23.

  • The SMART funds will reimburse SFAs the difference between the Federal reimbursement rate for free meals and the reduced-price and paid reimbursement rates. 

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