FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner
SNA Urges Passage of School Meal Legislation
Congressional action needed to address COVID-19 challenges
ARLINGTON, VA – Safe and consistent student access to school meals this fall continues to be threatened by unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. With food insecurity rates among households with children sharply elevated, the non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) is pressing Congress to support federal school meal programs, which ensure America’s students are nourished and ready to learn. SNA urges passage of legislation to expand access to school meals during School Year (SY) 2020-21 and relieve crippling regulatory, operational and financial challenges for school meal programs.
The Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act, introduced today by House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), would guarantee every child has safe access to healthy school meals during SY 2020-21. With a multitude of families newly-eligible for free and reduced-price meals, offering meals to all students at no charge spares overburdened schools the massive task of distributing and processing meal applications and reduces the stigma for children who depend on free meals. The change would also help maximize efforts to maintain social distancing during meal distribution, reducing the risk of COVID-19 exposure for staff and students.
H.R. 7764, The Child Nutrition Relief Act of 2020, introduced by U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (NY-7), would allow USDA to extend all COVID-19 school feeding waivers through June 30, 2021. In a recent letter to the US Department of Agriculture, SNA outlined the urgent need for these measures to ensure school meal programs are equipped to safely serve students this fall. Schools are considering vastly different learning models during the pandemic. Extending these waivers will allow school meal programs to seamlessly continue grab-and-go meal pick up for distance learners, serve meals to students in the classroom or adjust meal service in the event of a sudden COVID-19 school closure. Thirty-six U.S. Senators expressed support for the extension of COVID-19 school feeding waivers in a letter sent to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. The letter was spearheaded by Senator Maggie Hassan (NH).
SNA has also urged Congress to provide much needed emergency financial relief to school meal programs to cover costs associated with COVID-19 closures.
“With so many families struggling to put food on the table during the pandemic, millions more students will depend on consistent, daily access to school meals this fall,” said SNA President Reggie Ross, SNS. “Congress must act to ensure school meal programs can meet this need in any setting and respond nimbly to abrupt changes. Providing school meals at no charge to all students is the safest, most effective way to serve students and combat childhood hunger during the pandemic.”
About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 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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