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USDA extends free meal programs through 2020

Published: Aug. 31, 2020 at 1:14 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -The U.S Department of Agriculture is extending free meals for children through December 31st, 2020.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is extending nationwide waivers for the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says these summer meal programs will be granted funding to continue operations into the fall, as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All kids, the ones with free and reduced lunch would continue, but those that are not economically disadvantaged will have access to school meals,” said Perdue. “Whether they are in school or learning virtually.

Perdue says the agency is leaving the logistics up to local school systems and local communities.

The extension 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.

According to the agency, the summer meal program waiver extensions are based on current data estimations. Perdue says over the past six months, partners across the country have stood up nearly 80,000 sites, handing out meals at a higher reimbursement rate than the traditional school year program.

Perdue says he does expect the wavier to be extended again, unless additional funding from Congress is made available.

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