school meals

USDA funds to help schools buy food

The Biden administration said it would provide an additional $943 million in USDA funds to schools so they can purchase American-grown food for their meal programs.

Biden signs school nutrition extension, averting potential ‘summer hunger crisis’

Before leaving Washington for summit meetings in Europe, President Biden signed into law a $3-billion extension of school nutrition waivers. Proponents said the extension would prevent "a summer hunger crisis" and called for Congress to expand the school food program, rather than limit access.

Senate ping-pongs school nutrition bill back to House for final approval

The House and Senate passed different versions of a slimmed-down $3 billion extension of school nutrition waivers within hours of each other on Thursday, leaving to the House a final vote on the legislation on Friday. “I look forward to the president signing this into law,” said Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow.

Advocates say a hungry summer looms if Congress can’t extend school meal waivers

Summer is always the hungry season for America’s children — when school is not in session, many students don’t get enough to eat. But anti-hunger groups are warning this summer could be worse than usual, since many schools have been forced to scale back or eliminate their summer meals programs because the waivers that vastly expanded access to school food during the pandemic are set to expire on June 30, unless Congress takes action.(No paywall)

DeLauro: We’re working on extending school nutrition waivers

While Republicans objected to the cost of public nutrition programs such as SNAP, the leader of the House Appropriations Committee said on Wednesday that “we will be doing something about extending the waivers of the school meals programs.” The waivers, a response to the pandemic that allows free meals for all public school students, are due to expire on June 30.

‘Now is the time’ to make school meals free for all kids, anti-hunger advocates say

All American public school children are currently able to get school meals for free, thanks to temporary waivers that allowed schools to serve free meals during the pandemic. And while those waivers are set to expire at the end of June, the pandemic has served as a trial run for making school meals permanently free for all students, regardless of income. 

Free school meals will end with the school year, lawmakers decide

Pandemic-fighting waivers that allow schools to serve meals for free to all students will expire on June 30, House and Senate appropriators agreed on Wednesday, despite a campaign to continue universal free meals in the upcoming 2022-23 school year. An anti-hunger advocate said that millions of children will “face a hunger cliff when they lose access to summer and school meals.”

School food programs rely on USDA pandemic waivers

Nine out of every 10 schools are providing meals for free to all students under USDA waivers that are an unexpected issue in congressional budget negotiations this week. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is a strong opponent of extending the waivers, issued to help schools cope with the pandemic, into the 2022-23 school year.

The pandemic increased hunger, but fewer kids are getting school meals

Despite a spike in food insecurity during the Covid-19 pandemic, school meals have “lost important ground” over the last two years, according to a new report from the Food Research & Action Center. The number of students regularly eating school lunches was 30.7 percent lower in the 2020-21 school year than in 2018-19, before the pandemic hit, according to the report. No paywall

As pandemic persists, broad coalition urges Congress to continue school food waivers

Congress should allow an additional year of federal waivers that make all children eligible for free meals at public schools, said nearly 2,000 anti-hunger, medical, religious and farm groups on Monday. The waivers are scheduled to expire on June 30 but the pandemic is far from over, said the groups in a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations committees.

Agriculture can be climate leader with ‘build back’ funding, says Vilsack

The farm sector would gain $27 billion for climate mitigation, including payments for planting cover crops, from the social welfare and climate change bill passed by the House, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Agriculture can lead the way in the fight on climate with climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices that sequester carbon, reduce emissions and create new and better market opportunities for producers."

Pandemic brought 17-percent drop in school meals

Federal waivers that allowed schools to hand out "grab and go" meals to students, and that made meals free to all students, were powerful tools in blunting the impact of the pandemic on food insecurity among children, said USDA economists. Although the number of school meals declined 17 percent in fiscal 2020, because of the waivers 1.7 billion meals were served from March-May 2020 "that may have otherwise not been distributed," they said in a Covid-19 working paper.

Climate mitigation is actually agricultural market development, says Vilsack

The USDA will put a "significant" amount of money into large-scale pilot projects of climate-smart agricultural practices to create new markets for sustainably produced products, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. In announcing the initiative, which would go into effect next year, he painted dollar signs on his picture of climate mitigation.

Senate Democrats will apportion USDA bonus funds by themselves

Whether they are Democrats or Republicans, members of the House and Senate Agriculture committees routinely say the panels are the least partisan in Congress, even if the harmony is strained from time to time. In the weeks ahead, the infighting over President Biden's two-part infrastructure package will test that comity on the Senate panel.

After pandemic pain, school meal programs brace for next year

School districts across the country pared their menus, reduced staffing, and canceled equipment purchases because of the pandemic, but nearly half of them still lost money in the cafeteria during the past school year, said a survey released on Thursday by the School Nutrition Association. More than eight of every 10 food directors said they were concerned about financial losses and staff shortages in the upcoming school year.

Free meals when schools are open, EBT when they’re not, say activists

When it reauthorizes child nutrition programs, Congress should provide meals for free to all students at public schools and offer financial assistance to low-income parents to buy food for their school-age children during the summer and holidays, activists said at a House hearing on Thursday.

Bills call for permanent EBT food plan for students

Democratic lawmakers announced companion House and Senate bills on Wednesday to give low-income parents money to buy food for their school-age children during the summer and when schools are closed during other parts of the year.

Dean says USDA will bring standards for school meals, WIC, in line with Dietary Guidelines

With hunger levels stubbornly high and an estimated 1 in 5 American children obese, Stacy Dean, the deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services, told lawmakers Wednesday that the USDA would update nutrition standards for school meals and the WIC program to meet current Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

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