COVID-19 Waivers, Free School Meals Extended to Sept. 30

 

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COVID-19 Waivers, Free School Meals Extended to Sept. 30  

 2021-03-09

COVID-19 Waivers, Free School Meals Extended to Sept. 30
SNA commends USDA for extending child nutrition waivers 

ARLINGTON, VA – The non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) applauded the announcement today by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack of the extension of key COVID-19 Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) waivers through September 30, 2021. SNA has called for waiver extensions to address ongoing challenges of school meal service during the pandemic and to ensure all hungry students continue to have safe access to healthy school meals whether they are learning in school or from home.   

“School nutrition professionals greatly appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s commitment to ensuring we can safely meet the nutritional needs of our students this summer. These waiver extensions are a lifesaver for our school nutrition programs and the students and families we serve,” said SNA President Reggie Ross, SNS. “We were encouraged to hear that Secretary Vilsack is already focused on ensuring these critical programs can continue to serve students next school year and look forward to USDA’s April decision on how to address continued pandemic challenges.” 

The COVID-19 waivers were set to expire on June 30, threatening to derail summer meal service. The waivers are critical to ensuring schools can continue to offer grab-and-go meals to children while maintaining social distancing and other pandemic safety measures. Most importantly, waiver extensions ensure children can continue to receive free school breakfast and lunch when millions of families are struggling with economic challenges due to the pandemic.  

Nearly 800 school nutrition professionals participating in SNA’s  Legislative Action Conference (LAC) this week showed their appreciation to Secretary Vilsack when he addressed LAC today. During virtual meetings with their Members of Congress tomorrow, LAC participants will discuss the importance of the child nutrition waivers and the benefits of providing healthy school meals to all students at no charge.  

SNA supports extending COVID-19 waivers through School Year 2021/22 to maintain grab-and-go meal options and pandemic safety measures for students and staff. Further waiver extensions will ensure hungry students receive the nutrition they need to focus on their studies without requiring overwhelmed schools to distribute, collect and process free and reduced price meal applications. School nutrition programs could minimize touch points and promote social distancing and not be required to verify eligibility for free meals, collect payment or use student pin pads.

SNA’s 2021 Position Paper urges Congress to permanently provide school breakfast and lunch to students at no charge as part of their educational experience. SNA members will also be calling on Congress to provide much needed emergency financial relief to school meal programs to cover higher costs and financial losses associated with COVID-19 closures.   


About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing 50,000 school nutrition professionals across the country. Founded in 1946, SNA and its members are dedicated to making healthy school meals and nutrition education available to all students. For more information on school meals, visit www.SchoolNutrition.org/SchoolMeals.

 

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