U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced a nationwide extension of a waiver for the USDA’s child nutrition programs that allows school nutrition programs to continue serving free meals to all children—regardless of where they live—for the remainder of the summer. The nationwide waiver extended as part of the announcement is for area eligibility, which allows all children in all areas to receive free meals through USDA’s summer meals programs. Typically, USDA-funded summer meals sites are limited to low-income areas.
“As our nation reopens and people return to work, it remains critical our children continue to receive safe, healthy, and nutritious food,” Perdue said in statement accompanying the announcement. “We are extending one of the significant flexibilities provided in March during the coronavirus national emergency to schools, summer sites, and other folks who operate our programs so they can best adapt to the situation on-the-ground and serve our children well. This nationwide flexibility ensures America’s kids will continue to be fed this summer.”
In addition to granting significant program flexibilities through both nationwide and state waivers, USDA has taken several other actions to ensure children have food to eat throughout the coronavirus pandemic, including rapidly launching the Meals for Kids interactive site finder so families can find free meals for children in their area; approving 41 states for Pandemic-EBT, which provides food-purchasing benefits, equal to the value of school meals, to households with children who would otherwise be receiving free or reduced-price meals at school; and distributing more than 10 million meals in 36 states directly to low-income children in rural areas through the Meals to You public-private partnership with the Baylor University Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global and PepsiCo.