Action Needed: Urge Your Members of Congress to Support H.R. 6613, Bipartisan Legislation to Extend USDA’s Waiver Authority
We are asking our key network partners to urge their Members of Congress to sign-on to H.R. 6613, Keeping School Meals Flexible Act, a bipartisan effort to extend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) child nutrition waiver authority into 2023. We are hoping you can assist in firming up bipartisan support for this legislation. Currently, all waivers expire on June 30, 2022. The waiver authority would give the Secretary of Agriculture the ability to grant schools the flexibility and support they need to provide nutritious meals while facing pandemic-related funding, staffing and supply issues. For more information, House staff should contact Rebecca Eichmann in Rep. Spanberger’s office at email@example.com.
In 2020, Congress gave the USDA Secretary the authority to issue nationwide child nutrition waivers through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. These waivers have allowed school nutrition programs, local government agencies, and nonprofit organizations to keep feeding children in the face of numerous challenges such as school closures, virtual learning, and the need to social distance. The waivers remain critical due to the ongoing supply chain disruptions and staffing shortages and are needed to support access to meals as early as this summer.
FRAC and 2,000 national, state, and local organizations from every state across the country, and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, released a letter, urging Congress to swiftly extend USDA’s authority to issue nationwide waivers for the Child Nutrition Programs for the 2022-2023 school year.
FRAC’s most recent report, The Reach of Breakfast and Lunch: A Look at Pandemic and Pre-Pandemic Participation, reveals student participation in school breakfast and lunch dropped dramatically across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. Child nutrition and school meal programs are still recovering from the impact of the pandemic and the waivers are still needed to ensure no student goes hungry.
The report finds that nearly 14 million children received breakfast and 19.8 million children received lunch on an average school day during the 2020–2021 school year, a decrease of 692,000 children and 8.8 million children, respectively, compared to breakfast and lunch participation rates in the 2018–2019 school year — the last full school year prior to the pandemic.
Contact your Members of Congress and urge them to sign-on to H.R. 6613, Keeping School Meals Flexible Act. This bipartisan bill will extend USDA’s child nutrition waiver authority into 2023 and gives schools the flexibility and support to ensure access to nutritious meals and snacks.
Congressional members need to hear from their constituents about why the waivers have allowed - and would continue to allow - school nutrition programs, local government agencies, and nonprofit organizations to keep feeding children in the face of numerous challenges stemming from supply chain issues, among others, as a result of the pandemic.
Thank you for your advocacy urging Members to support H.R. 6613, a bipartisan effort to address the needs of our children as we continue to grapple with the disruptions and uncertainty caused by the pandemic.