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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced additional flexibilities to make it easier for school foodservice teams nationwide to feed kids during COVID-19.

Meal pattern requirements put on hold as USDA grants additional flexibilities for schools during COVID-19

Roadblocks to feeding kids removed include allowing states to waive meal pattern requirements, delay paperwork, allow parents to take home meals.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced additional flexibilities to make it easier for school foodservice teams nationwide to feed kids during the COVID-19 national emergency.

States will be allowed to waive meal pattern requirements, so local operators can create meals with the foods they have available. In addition, another roadblock has been removed by delaying administrative deadlines associated with the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) to ease burdens on schools closed due to COVID-19.

“USDA is committed to maximizing our services and flexibilities to ensure children and others who need food can get it during this Coronavirus epidemic,” said Secretary Perdue. “This is a challenging time for many Americans, but it is reassuring to see our Government and fellow Americans stepping up to the challenges facing us to make sure kids and those facing hunger are fed.”

Under one of the newly announced waivers, USDA is giving the states the option to allow parents or guardians to take meals home to their children. Typically, kids must be present to receive a meal through USDA’s child nutrition programs. In this situation, that may not be practical. This flexibility is also available for states to assist seniors and people with disabilities served through the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Since COVID-19 hit the child nutrition community, USDA has worked with states and local authorities on other previously announced flexibilities that include waiving meal times requirements to make meal pickup easier; and waiving requirements that meals must be served in a group setting to support social distancing and the requirement that afterschool meals and snacks served through certain programs be accompanied by educational activities to minimize exposure to the novel coronavirus.

To keep tabs on USDA’s response to coronavirus, visit their website, which also includes more resources.

Contact Tara at [email protected].

Follow her on Twitter @Tara_Fitzie.

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