On October 1, the President signed a bipartisan continuing resolution (H.R. 8337) to extend federal government funding through December 11. The legislation includes nearly $8 billion for vital nutrition assistance, extends several key flexibilities for nutrition programs, and extends and expands the Pandemic EBT program, which provides resources to families with children who otherwise would have received free or reduced-price meals at school.
With the CR now in place, the Florida Food Policy Council (FLFPC) is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to use its authority from the CR to take immediate action to issue critical waivers.
On September 21, FLFPC along with nearly 1,400 national, state, and local organizations sent a letter to the USDA urging the department to extend all child nutrition waivers through the rest of the 2020-2021 school year. Specifically, the USDA was asked to:
· Allow the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) to be used to feed children through the school year;
· Extend all nationwide waivers for SFSP and SSO, including non-congregate feeding, parent/guardian pick-up, meal pattern flexibility, meal service time, and area eligibility, through the school year;
· Waive the Afterschool Activity Requirement for the Afterschool Meal Program and the Snack Programs available through CACFP and NSLP; and
· Allow those providing meals through the Summer Food Service Program or Seamless Summer Option to also utilize Afterschool Meal and Snack Programs.
Extending all waivers throughout the school year will provide much-needed stability for schools and program operators while also: limiting overt identification, reducing the administrative burden on school nutrition departments, allowing safe and efficient meal distribution at the location that makes the most sense for families; supporting non-school sponsors that care for school-aged children during remote learning days, and providing a level of reimbursement more commensurate with the costs of the service models required during a pandemic.
Read the letter here. A text of H.R. 8337 can be found here.