The US Senate failed to include the extension of child nutrition waivers in the omnibus spending bill released early yesterday. The omission of the waivers was unexpected and put millions of kids at risk of hunger.
The pandemic-related child nutrition waivers have been critical in supporting nutrition operations so that children continue to have access to school, after school, and summer meals, and the waivers are still needed to help schools and families recover from and respond to the economic, health, and educational fallout of the pandemic.
Early in the pandemic, Congress gave the USDA the authority to issue waivers so meal programs could pivot and adapt despite the obstacles. This authority is set to expire on June 30, 2022.
Without the waivers, school meal programs will experience impacts like reduced reimbursement rates and increased regulatory burdens, all at a time when they are facing extreme challenges including acute staffing shortages, rapidly rising food costs and severe supply chain disruptions.
This new landscape with restricted access to meals will be especially tough on children in rural communities, according to Lisa Davis, the senior vice president of advocacy group Share Our Strength.
Community and school providers are making their plans NOW for safely feeding kids this summer and into the next school year. If Congress doesn’t act right now, it will be too late – and kids won’t get meals this summer, during other out-of-school times, or next school year.
And thank YOU for taking action with us to advance nutrition security and health equity for ALL.