Free school lunch for all extended through next school year
The Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday it would extend universal free lunch through the 2021-22 school year, in an effort to reach more of the estimated 12 million youth experiencing food insecurity.
In March, USDA said these waivers, which made school meals more flexible to administer, would be extended only to Sept. 30, leaving schools and families uncertain about what next school year might look like,” Laura Reiley reports for The Washington Post. “Child nutrition program waivers, which aimed to cut through red tape to allow kids to eat free even outside normal meal times, were implemented at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, at a time when millions of families faced financial strain, hunger and hardship. The waivers allowed schools and community organizations to adapt programs to better meet the needs of children and families.”
USDA will also increase the reimbursement rate to school meal operators, which it did not do when it extended the waivers in March. Most school meal programs have operated at a loss during the pandemic because of significantly higher costs and no increase in the per-meal reimbursement, Reiley reported then.