Keep Kids Fed Act Would Give USDA Temporary Authority To Provide Free Summer Meals for Children
For many parents, the end of the school year means no more stressing over homework or getting the kids out the door in time for classes. But for some parents, summer brings a new set of worries, including how they are going to feed their children.
While programs such as No Kid Hungry can help some families find free meals and snacks within their community, the program doesn’t run in every town. And it often requires parents to have transportation to free meal sites, which may not be close by.
There is only so much one organization can do, as well. No Kid Hungry issued a report saying that kids could miss out on up to 95 million meals if a federal program is not put in place for this summer.
During the pandemic, Congress allowed the USDA to grant waivers making it easier for schools to provide meals to children during the summer. But that program is set to expire June 30, 2022.
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A bipartisan group of lawmakers have now introduced the Keep Kids Fed Act, which would extend the school meal waivers through September 30, 2022. If the waiver is not passed, roughly one out of five sites eligible to serve meals to all kids during the summer of 2021 would be closed in 2022, according to the No Kid Hungry report. This could leave nearly 7 million children without access to nutritious food during the summer.
The Keep Kids Fed Act would provide additional reimbursement to schools for all lunches and breakfasts served and also eliminate the “reduced-lunch” designation, providing free meals to all students. It would also extend the waivers instituted during the pandemic, making it possible for school districts working with the USDA to provide free summer meals to all students.
The legislation must first pass in Senate and the House of Representatives before being signed into law by President Biden. Meanwhile, June 30 — the date the original waivers expire — is approaching quickly.
“With 90% of our schools still facing challenges as they return to normal operations, this will give our schools and summer meal programs much-needed support to deal with ongoing food service issues. Congress needs to act swiftly to pass this critical help,” Senator Debbie Stabenow, Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Chairperson, said in a statement on her website.
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