FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nicole Aber, 646-627-7741
Extended Waivers Would Allow Schools to Serve Largest Number of Students in Need
Advocates Say USDA’s Decision is “Absolutely Outrageous” and Will Further Strain Struggling Families
“Hungry Kids Should Not Be Hostages in Power Play”
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue confirmed yesterday that the Department will not extend waivers past September 30th for school districts to provide free meals to students with greater flexibility, even as the effects of the pandemic continue, child hunger has increased five-fold since before the pandemic, and school districts across the country start operating fully or partially remote this upcoming school year.
In response, Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a nationwide nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, said:
“The USDA’s decision to forgo extensions for school meals waivers is absolutely outrageous. Without these waivers, if a parent has a child in more than one school, they will be required to go to each school to pick up meals for their children while schools are operating either remotely or partially remotely. School districts will no longer be able to deliver meals to students nor to provide meals to families unless they are registered to receive free or reduced-price meals. By halting these much-needed waivers, USDA is not only placing undue stress on families that are already struggling to make ends meet, but it is also placing additional administrative burdens on school food programs that are working tirelessly to serve meals while keeping kids and staff members safe. I agree with District of Columbia officials that this is an attempt to strong-arm schools to re-open before they are ready to do so. Hungry kids should not be used as hostages by USDA in this Trump Administration power play. Hunger Free America urges Secretary Perdue to extend all school meals waivers for the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year. Nearly 4 in 10 households with children struggling with hunger is already too much. We can’t let the number of hungry children continue to increase, but unfortunately by not extending these waivers, USDA is allowing that to happen.”