ARLINGTON, VA – The non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Congress for their work to extend all Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) waivers through the end of the 2020/2021 school year. SNA members called for these vital extensions to ease challenges of school meal service during the pandemic and ensure all hungry students can be nourished by school meals.
Following last week’s passage of the Continuing Resolution, granting authority and funding for waiver extensions, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that school meal programs will have the necessary waivers to offer school meals to all children at no charge through the end of the school year. The waivers also permit schools to continue allowing parents to collect multiple days worth of grab-and-go meals at curbside pick-up locations, so distance learners can safely and conveniently access meals for the week.
"These waiver extensions are great news for America’s students and the school nutrition professionals working so hard to support them throughout this pandemic," said School Nutrition Association President Reggie Ross, SNS. "Families struggling to make ends meet can be assured that their students will have access to healthy school meals, whether they are learning at home or in school. School meal programs can remain focused on safely meeting nutritional needs of children in their communities without having to worry about burdensome regulations."
SNA has consistently advocated for these critical waivers to ensure school meal programs have the flexibility to adapt meal service in the event of unanticipated school closures or changes in learning models during the pandemic. School nutrition directors, facing persistent supply chain disruptions, needed certainty on the availability of the waivers to place orders for the spring and plan menus for the months ahead. The waivers also speed up meal distribution, reducing contact between students and staff and improving safety by eliminating requirements to collect payment or verify student eligibility for free meals.
"The School Nutrition Association greatly appreciates efforts by USDA and Congress to address the many challenges school nutrition professionals have faced while working on the frontlines to feed hungry children," said Ross.
SNA is also calling on Congress to provide much needed emergency financial relief to school meal programs to cover higher costs and financial losses associated with COVID-19 closures. SNA urges swift passage of Heroes Act 2.0, which provides emergency relief funds.
About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing 55,000 school nutrition professionals across the country. Founded in 1946, SNA and its members are dedicated to making healthy school meals and nutrition education available to all students. For more information on school meals, visit www.SchoolNutrition.org/SchoolMeals.