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Chairman Roberts Applauds USDA’s Free School Meals Through 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, applauded a school nutrition waiver announcement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which he requested earlier this month.

On August 17, Roberts led a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue urging the Department to continue providing flexibilities to schools and sponsoring organizations for school meals and child nutrition. Click here to read the letter.

“I appreciate Secretary Perdue exercising the Department’s emergency authority to assist school food authorities and non-school sponsoring organizations to provide children with meals while schools begin various models of in-person and virtual classroom sessions under the COVID-19 emergency conditions,” said Roberts. “I applaud USDA’s work with state agencies, schools, and non-school sponsoring organizations to collaboratively provide meals through the Department’s child nutrition programs when schools were unexpectedly closed in the spring, through the summer, and now again as schools wrestle with these challenges as the school year begins.”

Today, USDA announced an extension of waivers to allow the Summer Food Service Program and the Seamless Summer Options to continue to run through December 31, 2020, if funding permits. This includes:

  • Allowing the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Options meals to be served in all areas and at no cost;
  • Permitting meals to be served outside of the typically-required group settings and meal times;
  • Waiving meal pattern requirements as necessary; and
  • Allowing parents and guardians to pick-up meals for their children.

The waiver extensions fall under the authorities Congress provided to USDA in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.