Ahead of June 30 Deadline, Spanberger, Fitzpatrick Lead Bipartisan Effort Pushing House Leadership to Extend USDA Child Nutrition Waiver Authority, Keep U.S. Students Fed at School

Current Supply Chain Disruptions & Inflation Underscore the Need for Extended Flexibilities to Provide Reliable, Nutritious School Meals to Students

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) today led a bipartisan effort pushing House leadership in both parties to act with urgency to extend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) ability to give U.S. schools the flexibilities they need to make sure America’s students are fed.

Earlier this year, Spanberger and Fitzpatrick introduced bipartisan legislation — the Keeping School Meals Flexible Act — that would give schools across the country the support they need to feed students. Their bill would provide USDA with the continued authority to establish, grant, or extend child nutrition waivers through the upcoming school year — through June 30, 2023. These waivers have been a lifeline for schools districts looking to provide healthy meals to students, navigate supply chain issues, and grapple with rising food costs.

In a letter sent to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the Members pushed congressional leaders to take swift action ahead of a critical June 30, 2022 deadline — when all 12 waivers currently in place, as well as USDA’s waiver authority, are set to expire. Specifically, they called on Congress to pass their bipartisan Keeping School Meals Flexible Act, which now has more than 90 cosponsors.

“We are less than two weeks from the June 30, 2022 expiration of the USDA child nutrition waivers,” said Spanberger, Fitzpatrick, and 21 of their colleagues. “These waivers have been critical for schools across the country to feed children throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – and they remain critical as we transition beyond COVID-19.”

Their letter continued, “During a challenging time for many families, the last thing parents should worry about in the coming months is rising costs for their children’s school meals – a reality school districts are facing to stay within their already tight budgets. Accordingly, we urge you to bring forward the Keeping School Meals Flexible Act, which has more than 90 cosponsors and bipartisan support. With few days remaining, Congress must act with the expediency this situation requires. We cannot leave children, schools, and parents behind.”

Click here to read their letter, and the full letter text is below.

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy,

We are less than two weeks from the June 30, 2022 expiration of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) child nutrition waivers. These waivers have been critical for schools across the country to feed children throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – and they remain critical as we transition beyond COVID-19.

The waivers in place provide schools greater reimbursements for school meals, which is particularly critical during a period of rising costs. They provide school food authorities with flexibilities in purchasing options, critically important amid supply chain challenges. They provide parents with options for picking up their children’s meals during the summer months – the hungriest time of the year for kids. Most importantly, they provide those responsible for feeding students the flexibilities they need to ensure every child is fed.

Each of us have heard desperate pleas from schools and parents across our rural, urban, and suburban districts, urging Congress to extend these waivers. During a challenging time for many families, the last thing parents should worry about in the coming months is rising costs for their children’s school meals – a reality school districts are facing to stay within their already tight budgets.

Accordingly, we urge you to bring forward the Keeping School Meals Flexible Act, which has more than 90 cosponsors and bipartisan support. With few days remaining, Congress must act with the expediency this situation requires. We cannot leave children, schools, and parents behind.

Thank you for your attention to this important and time-sensitive matter.

The Keeping School Meals Flexible Act is 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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