Anna Maria Chávez, executive director & CEO of the National School Boards Association, and Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, issued the following statements in response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Nutrition Service’s decision to extend a set of nationwide waivers that will help school meal programs feed students through June 30, 2022.
Anna Maria Chávez, NSBA
“NSBA appreciates the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s actions to extend flexibilities for child nutrition services during this pandemic. As our school boards continue COVID-19 recovery efforts within their respective communities, these actions will allow their school food authorities the supports needed to help address food insecurity among children and provide nutritious meals throughout this coming school year.
“The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service’s (FNS) extension of flexibilities for sodium, grain, and milk targets will help reduce plate waste that many school districts have reported. Additionally, the extension of waivers will allow children and families the supports they need for COVID-19 recovery.
“These actions announced today help provide certainty for many children whose families have been impacted by COVID-19 and they increase flexibility and relief for school districts to successfully administer school meal programs.”
Daniel A. Domenech, AASA
“As schools and students face uncertainty in the wake of the pandemic, one area that continues to shine brightly is the critical work school systems are doing—in large part due to flexibilities granted through the U.S. Department of Agriculture—to help keep students fed even while schools were closed.
“Throughout the last year, we have seen record levels of food insecurity across the nation. While our schools have made tremendous strides toward re-opening with in-person learning and returning to some semblance of normalcy, it is clear that our students and school food-service operations are continuing to recover from the pandemic. As we enter this new transition period, USDA's decision to allow schools to operate the Seamless Summer Option and offer all meals free to students as well as provide continue targeted meal pattern flexibility and technical support to local education agencies will give superintendents the tools to tackle this issue and customize meal service designed to fit local needs. The extension of these flexibilities through the 2021-22 school year will ensure food security as we continue to return to normalcy.
“AASA and NSBA advocated for these flexibilities early in the pandemic because of their importance in helping food service operators plan for the fall and reach every child who relies on free and reduced-price school meals, regardless of what the school day may look like. As such, we are happy to see that the Department is continuing its commitment to providing superintendents and school boards with the flexibilities necessary to meet local needs.”