(PRNewswire)–The California School Nutrition Association (CSNA) reached out to Rep. Susan Davis, Congresswoman from San Diego, to draft a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, to use his existing authority to extend waivers allowing schools to provide meals to students during the pandemic.
The letter, sent to Secretary Perdue on August 7, was circulated by Rep. Davis among the California Congressional delegation, and was signed by a bipartisan group of 25 members.
USDA has issued a number of waivers that allow schools to provide meals using a range of service models so that school children, many of whom rely on school meals as their primary source of nutrition, can have access regardless of how schools provide classes. The most effective waivers are set to expire when schools reopen or August 31, whichever comes first. With schools reopening, many children are losing access to school meals.
“We are very concerned about how we can serve the children effectively when we don’t know where they will be on any given day,” said Johnna Jenkins, President of the California School Nutrition Association. “Some of our schools will have children present some days and not others. Some schools will be only distance learning. The counting and claiming requirements for school meals cannot support all of the different ways we need to deliver meals to hungry children. We need USDA to extend the waivers that give us the flexibility needed to feed kids for the whole school year so we can plan, as best we can, and do what we do best.”
The effort by CSNA has the active support of a broad alliance of education groups and county and city departments of education.
Several bills to extend the USDA waivers have been introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, but the legislative process is slow and cumbersome, and the need for relief is immediate. To that end, CSNA worked with Rep. Davis who sits on the Committee on Education and Labor that has jurisdiction over school meals to address the issue directly with the Secretary whose existing authority during this national emergency can be used to issue the waivers effective immediately.