In Sudden Reversal, USDA Extends School Meals Waivers for Districts to More Easily Reach Hungry Students


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Nicole Aber, 646-627-7741

Reversing Itself Over a Few Days, USDA Extends School Meals Waivers, Allowing Districts to More Easily Reach Food Insecure Students

Advocates Praise Reversal, Calling Extension “Huge Lifeline for Hungry Families”

In response to withering, bipartisan criticism, USDA announced today that it had reversed itself over the last few days and that the Department will now extend waivers through December 31, 2020 for school districts to provide free meals to students with greater flexibility. These waivers will allow school districts to supply meals to all children regardless of family income in addition to utilizing the structure of the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option, allowing communities to reach a larger number of children, especially those in districts operating remotely or partially remotely.

In response, Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a nationwide nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, said:

“USDA’s original decision to deny these extensions was blasted by schools, advocates, and even some very conservative members of Congress. USDA’s common-sense reversal on the extension of school meals waivers is a major relief for school districts, hunger advocates, and struggling families. Parents will now be able to continue picking up meals for their children at one location rather than going to different school sites to pick up a meal for each child. Additionally, school districts will have the flexibility to deliver meals to students’ homes and to drop off multiple meals at once. The extension of these waivers is a huge lifeline for hungry families and will help ensure that the number of food insecure children in this country doesn’t continue to rise.”