After Spanberger Holds Leadership’s Feet to the Fire, U.S. House Passes Deal to Extend USDA Child Nutrition Waiver Authority, Keep U.S. Students Fed at School

The Congresswoman’s Bipartisan “Keeping School Meals Flexible Act” Now has 100 Cosponsors

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger pressed House leadership in both parties to act with urgency to extend key school meal waivers ahead of a critical deadline, an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority of the U.S. House voted to pass legislation that would protect access to school meals and mitigate the impacts of inflation on America’s school districts. The legislation now moves to the U.S. Senate for its consideration.

Ahead of a fast-approaching deadline, Spanberger has repeatedly led efforts pushing Congress to take such actions and maintain waivers that have been a lifeline for school districts as they provide reliable meals, navigate supply chain issues, and budget for rising food costs. All 12 waivers currently in place, as well as USDA’s waiver authority, are set to expire on June 30, 2022 — in one week.

On Monday, Spanberger and U.S. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) led a bipartisan effort calling on Congress to quickly extend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) ability to give American schools the flexibilities they need to keep America’s students fed. And earlier this year, Spanberger and Fitzpatrick introduced the bipartisan Keeping School Meals Flexible Act, which would give schools across the country the support they need to feed students. Their bill — which now has 100 cosponsors — would provide USDA with the continued authority to establish, grant, or extend child nutrition waivers through the upcoming school year, through June 30, 2023.

As part of this push, the bipartisan package passed today in the U.S. House would help extend waivers through the 2022-2023 School Year that help keep students fed and schools out of the red. Specifically, it would:

  • Allow students eligible for reduced-price meals to receive free meals,
  • Increase federal reimbursements for every school lunch by 40 cents and every school breakfast by 15 cents — above the annual inflationary adjustment scheduled for July 1, 2022,
  • Provide USDA authority for no-cost waivers aimed to give schools flexibility, including those for schools unable to meet nutrition standards due to supply chain disruptions,
  • Reduce administrative and reporting burdens, and
  • Allow waivers for 2022 summer meal programs.

“For months, I have heard from Virginia parents, school administrators, food bank volunteers, and additional community members who are concerned about the approaching June 30 deadline for USDA school meal waivers. By sending this package to the President’s desk, we would help Virginia schools shoulder the burden of inflation and take care of their students during the summer — often the hungriest time of the year for far too many children,” said Spanberger. “I’m proud to have led 100 of my colleagues — both Democrats and Republicans — in pushing for this kind of extension. Together, we can make sure all students have access to reliable school breakfasts and lunches — and I urge the U.S. Senate to finally move this deal forward before the clock expires in one week.”

In April 2022, Spanberger hosted a listening session with school administrators from counties in Virginia’s Seventh District and Virginia food bank representatives to hear about how these waivers have been vital to feeding kids and keeping their programs running.

Spanberger’s bipartisan efforts — including the Keeping School Meals Flexible Act — are endorsed by the Virginia School Nutrition Association, Federation of Virginia Food Banks, American Academy Of Pediatrics, School Nutrition Association, National Education Association, Bipartisan Policy Center, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), Afterschool Alliance, The School Superintendents Association (AASA), Save the Children, Feeding America, Feed More, and Share Our Strength.

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