The United States Department of Agriculture announced Friday it will be extending child nutrition waivers until the end of the 2020-21 school year, meaning school districts nationwide are allowed to continue providing free meals for the rest of the year.
The waivers, which were previously extended through December 2020, were originally put into place early in the COVID-19 pandemic when many districts elected to finish the 2019-20 school year online.
With the extension, districts will be able to continue leveraging the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option to provide no-cost meals to all children across the country.
Under the waivers, districts are permitted to:
- Serve SFSP and SSO meals in all areas and at no cost
- Serve meals outside of typically required group settings and meal times
- Waive meal pattern requirements as necessary
- Allow parents and guardians to pick up meals for their children
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said the flexibilities offered by the waivers are unprecedented, but necessary.
“As our nation recovers and reopens, we want to ensure that children continue to receive the nutritious breakfasts and lunches they count on during the school year wherever they are, and however they are learning. We are grateful for the heroic efforts by our school food service professionals who are consistently serving healthy meals to kids during these trying times, and we know they need maximum flexibility right now. I appreciate President Trump for his unwavering commitment to ensuring kids receive the food they need during this pandemic and for supporting USDA in continuing to provide these unprecedented flexibilities.”
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue