At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress gave USDA the ability to issue special flexibilities to school meal and community meal sponsors, recognizing the importance of access to crucial nutrition programs. Without these waivers, children would have missed out on a crucial source of nutrition during school closures and virtual learning. This lifeline for so many kids continues to be important as families and nutrition professionals cope with ongoing effects of the pandemic, including closures of school, work, and child care, staffing shortages, and supply chain challenges. Bipartisan bills in the House and Senate would keep this crucial flexibility.
It is critical that Congress give USDA the continuing authority to issue these waivers if needed through the 2022-2023 school year so that child nutrition program operators can effectively plan and prepare for the coming year with the flexibility to meet all students’ needs. Our shared work of shifting power in our food system and communities calls on us to elevate the needs of all kids to have consistent, reliable access to healthy meals through child nutrition programs.
National Farm to School Network strongly urges Congress to extend USDA’s nationwide waiver authority.