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Senators introduce bipartisan bill to extend school meal program flexibilities

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    Senators introduce bipartisan bill to extend school meal program flexibilities

    On March 31, U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the bipartisan Support Kids Not Red Tape Act (S.3979), which would extend the pandemic-era child nutrition program flexibilities that are currently set to expire on June 30, 2022. The child nutrition waivers were authorized in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on April 20, 2021, as part of their efforts to ensure access to free meals for children throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Child nutrition program flexibilities have assisted schools in managing the increased costs associated with pandemic-related operational and supply chain disruptions by increasing reimbursement rates, allowing schools to substitute food products and other nutrition components, and eliminating various income eligibility and paperwork requirements. Without these continued program flexibilities, many schools will be faced with forgoing reimbursement or not able to serve kids at all, including during the summer months.

    If enacted, the Support Kids Not Red Tape Act would:

    • Extend program flexibilities through September 30, 2023, giving schools the opportunity to recover from supply-chain disruptions and transition back to normal operations
    • Require states to draft and submit a transition plan to USDA, which will provide guidance for schools as they return to normal meal operations on October 1, 2023
    • Direct the USDA Secretary to administer technical assistance to states as they develop their transition plans and to School Food Authorities on complying with nutrition standards during the extension

    Counties support action to continue federal flexibilities in administering federal nutrition benefit programs given ongoing disruptions in the supply chain and workforce shortages across school food operations and county human services agencies. Though the role of county governments in administering, operating and funding child nutrition programs varies, these programs support key county priorities such as improving early child development, combatting food insecurity and preventing child poverty. NACo urges Congress to pass S. 3979 and will continue to monitor action on this issue.

    Additional Resources

    • NACo Blog: U.S. Department of Agriculture increases school meal funding until end of academic year
    • NACo Toolkit: The County Human Services and Education Landscape
    • NACo Toolkit: Priorities for Strengthening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
    • NACo Toolkit: Tracking COVID-19 Relief for Human Services and Education Programs
    On March 31, U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the bipartisan Support Kids Not Red Tape Act (S.3979), which would extend the pandemic-era child nutrition program flexibilities that are currently set to expire on June 30, 2022.
    2022-04-06
    Blog
    2022-04-06
Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduce legislation that would extend the USDA’s school meal program flexibilities, which are set to expire in June 2022 The bipartisan Support Kids Not Red Tape Act would provide schools the flexibility and resources to continue to provide free meals to students through September 2023 Counties support a continuation of the child nutrition program flexibilities to ensure children have access to free and healthy meals in school, at child care and during the summer months

On March 31, U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the bipartisan Support Kids Not Red Tape Act (S.3979), which would extend the pandemic-era child nutrition program flexibilities that are currently set to expire on June 30, 2022. The child nutrition waivers were authorized in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on April 20, 2021, as part of their efforts to ensure access to free meals for children throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Child nutrition program flexibilities have assisted schools in managing the increased costs associated with pandemic-related operational and supply chain disruptions by increasing reimbursement rates, allowing schools to substitute food products and other nutrition components, and eliminating various income eligibility and paperwork requirements. Without these continued program flexibilities, many schools will be faced with forgoing reimbursement or not able to serve kids at all, including during the summer months.

If enacted, the Support Kids Not Red Tape Act would:

  • Extend program flexibilities through September 30, 2023, giving schools the opportunity to recover from supply-chain disruptions and transition back to normal operations
  • Require states to draft and submit a transition plan to USDA, which will provide guidance for schools as they return to normal meal operations on October 1, 2023
  • Direct the USDA Secretary to administer technical assistance to states as they develop their transition plans and to School Food Authorities on complying with nutrition standards during the extension

Counties support action to continue federal flexibilities in administering federal nutrition benefit programs given ongoing disruptions in the supply chain and workforce shortages across school food operations and county human services agencies. Though the role of county governments in administering, operating and funding child nutrition programs varies, these programs support key county priorities such as improving early child development, combatting food insecurity and preventing child poverty. NACo urges Congress to pass S. 3979 and will continue to monitor action on this issue.

Additional Resources

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    <h3><strong>Counties Matter in Human Services</strong></h3>

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    Human Services & Education Steering Committee

    All matters pertaining to children’s issues, foster care,  public assistance and income support, services to senior citizens and individuals with disabilities, immigration policy, social services, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary education. Policy Platform & Resolutions 2021-2022 2022 NACo Legislative Priorities
    page

    <p>All matters pertaining to children&rsquo;s issues, foster care,&nbsp; public assistance and income support, services to senior citizens and individuals with disabilities, immigration policy, social services, and elementary,

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