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Breakfast > Bell Victory; MA Sign-on letter to USDA to extend child nutrition waivers; More schools can offer universal free meals (CEP)

We are writing with three important school meal issues to get on your radar, and especially as schools wrestle with reopening.  

Breakfast after the Bell - VICTORY!  

First, the very good news. Thanks to the leadership of the Greater Boston Food Bank and Project Bread, through the Rise and Shine Coalition, "Breakfast after the Bell" legislation was passed by the MA House and Senate on July 28th and signed by the Governor TODAY!!!  See also today's State House News Service article, Pandemic drives school breakfast. Note: This bill will take effect in two school years - school year 2022/23 - in order to give schools some additional time to implement due to the Pandemic.  Folks are reminded that the Eos Foundation has grants available to help schools ramp up breakfast in the classroom.

The breakfast law will require school districts with 60% or more of their children getting free/reduced price meals to get breakfast after school starts through various means including breakfast in the classroom, "grab and go" or keeping the cafeteria open after the first period.  A huge thanks to our breakfast CHAMPIONS - Senator Sal DiDomenico and Reps Andy Vargas (Haverhill) and Aaron Vega (Holyoke) for shepherding this through the State House. 

CEP: School districts can still apply to offer universal free meals before August 31st!

There are a number of Massachusetts school districts that can qualify to provide universal free school meals to all children under the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), but have not elected to do so to date. These are school districts where over 50% of their students are "directly certified" for free school meals bc they receive a federal benefit (SNAP, TAFDC, MassHealth, Head Start), or are homeless or in foster care. 

A few months ago, USDA extended the time period for school districts to apply for CEP to August 31st, and also allow school districts to use their June 2020 student data (vs April data). Given the surge in SNAP applications, more districts qualify for CEP!  Attached is a fact sheet that explains this effort. 

MLRI and Project Bread would love the help of the SNAP Coalition to urge the following school districts to elect CEP before the end of August, including the school districts of Palmer, Gardner, Brookfield, and the Greater Lowell Voc/Tech Highschool. There are also many individual high poverty schools within school districts that can elect CEP if the district does not. We are happy to provide you with information on your local school district. 

Sign-on letter to USDA to extend child nutrition waivers during SY20/21- Friday deadline

Project Bread is coordinating a statewide sign-on letter from MA municipalities and schools urging USDA to extend the existing child nutrition waivers continue to serve meals throughout the 2020-2021 school year in the safest and most effective way possible, and whether students are learning in the school building or from home.

The current child nutrition waivers are set to expire on August 31st. The MA Dept of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) submitted a waiver request on July 24th for a waiver extension through the upcoming school year. Thus far, USDA has not acted on waiver requests from any state, including Massachusetts. The national School Nutrition Association wrote to the USDA in June to ask that the agency take swift action to guarantee safe and reliable access to healthy school meals and ensure school meal programs can remain fiscally sustainable. 

Please ask your local municipalities and schools to sign onto this sign on letter. And local community orgs can sign on too!  The google sign on form is HEREThe deadline for sign on is Friday, August 7th.  If you have any questions, please reach out to Jen Lemmerman at jennifer_lemmerman@projectbread.org