Study: Participation in afterschool nutrition programs was rising before pandemic

Even before the pandemic, participation in Afterschool Nutrition Programs was on the rise, according to a report released today from the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). The findings highlight the need to ensure meal access when kids aren’t in school, particularly as the pandemic drags on.(No paywall)

School meal programs have lost more than $483 million so far during the pandemic

School meal programs have taken a massive financial hit during the coronavirus crisis, according to a new survey from the School Nutrition Association. The survey, which includes responses from school nutrition directors in 1,614 school districts across the country, points to the crippling costs of adapting to pandemic-related constraints, and significant losses due to a drop in participation in the school-lunch program.(No paywall)

Advocates push to make WIC waivers permanent

Last week, the USDA extended a series of flexibilities in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children for the duration of the Covid-19 public health emergency. The waivers for the program, commonly known as WIC, have allowed participants to apply for benefits remotely rather than in person, and expanded both pickup options and the scope of eligible products. (No paywall)

Q&A: A rural Montana school district scrambles keep kids fed during pandemic

Like school nutrition staff across the country, Marsha Wartick, food service director for the Ronan School District in tiny Ronan, Montana, spent the last six months feeding hungry kids and their families under a USDA emergency meals program. Now, as kids head back to school, Wartick is scrambling to react to mixed signals from the administration and hoping the emergency program is allowed to continue through the entire school year. (No paywall)

USDA creates a food gap in P-EBT, say House Democrats

Congress created the P-EBT program early this year to help low-income parents buy food for their school-age children during coronavirus closures. Two high-ranking House Democrats said on Thursday the USDA would cut off benefits to students at schools that begin classes later than usual because of the pandemic.

In abrupt reversal, USDA extends summer school food waivers

In a sudden reversal, the Department of Agriculture announced Monday that it would extend school meal waivers through Dec. 30—less than a week after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had said the programs would lapse by Sept. 30. The shift came amid an outcry from advocates and lawmakers from both parties, who argued that Perdue’s refusal to extend key waivers and flexibilities around free summer meals would worsen record levels of child hunger. (No paywall)

Former education secretary joins calls for school food flexibility

The Trump administration should immediately extend two waivers that allow schools during the coronavirus pandemic to serve meals at no charge to students, whether in the cafeteria, the classroom, or as grab-and-go meals at the curbside, said former education secretary Arne Duncan on Monday.

In pandemic, one in five children are not getting enough to eat, says report

An unprecedented number of U.S. children — 13.9 million — are experiencing food insecurity and did not have sufficient food in late June due to the coronavirus pandemic, said an analysis from the Hamilton Project on Thursday. "This level of need merits a substantial and immediate public investment," said Lauren Bauer, a fellow at the Hamilton Project and author of the analysis. (No paywall)

Provide free meals for all students, say school food directors

The USDA should extend all school food waivers through the end of the coming school year and make all meals free to students, said the School Nutrition Association in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday. (No paywall)