USDA extends free meal program for school children

West Virginia

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — Children across the country rely on their school for some of their daily meals and with many school districts switching to distance learning, the U.S. Department Of Agriculture’s recent announcement to extend meal flexibility is a sigh of relief.

West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito and nineteen other senators penned a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue on August 17th asking him to continue the school meal flexibility program.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is extending a suite of nationwide waivers for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) through as late as December 31, 2020 or until available funding runs out. The FNS allows for meals to be served to students at no cost and for parents or guardians to pick up meals for their children. It also allows for meals to be served outside of the typically-required group settings and meal times and waiving meal pattern requirements as necessary.

The USDA stated that their goal is to be able to ensure that all children have access to meal options under any circumstance.

Senator Capito shared a written statement on Tuesday calling the extension a direct response to the letter that she and her colleagues wrote. Capito also went on to say:

“Teachers, students, and parents alike have all had to embrace flexibility leading into the school year. I’m glad to see USDA adapting with that same flexibility. Children may feel uncertain about many things this year, but this announcement means they will not feel uncertain about their next nutritious meal.”

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