USDA has announced new nationwide waivers to grant states additional flexibility for meal service during COVID-19 school closures. These waivers...
On Thursday, March 5th, the School Nutrition Association sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture advocating on behalf of members seeking guidance on emergency feeding procedures and additional options to safely serve their students in the event schools close due to Coronavirus. USDA provides guidance on using USDA Food during a pandemic. In addition, eligible School Food Authorities (SFAs) are currently allowed to serve students meals through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) during unanticipated school closures. However, several barriers prevent the effective use of this emergency feeding vehicle in the event of widespread coronavirus-related school closures. In the letter, SNA provides several suggestions for USDA’s consideration while developing a response plan including extending waiver language and program eligibility. Read more details in SNA’s letter.
Due to an abundance of care for our member’s health and safety, SNA will continue to seek the most up-to-date information about the virus. State and local public health departments are now testing and publicly reporting their cases. In the event of a discrepancy between CDC cases and cases reported by state and local public health officials, data reported by states should be considered the most up to date.
SNA suggests a variety of measures to increase options for school districts equipped to safely offer children meals during emergency school closures. Suggestions provided to USDA are designed to permit schools to offer grab and go meals either at school or community sites. Specific requests include expanded eligibility for the Summer Food Service Program, which can be utilized for emergency feeding during unanticipated school closures, and eliminating requirements that meals be consumed on site. In addition to combating food insecurity, the opportunity to minimize food waste and spoilage in school cafeterias and resulting financial losses for school meal programs is cited by SNA.
On Monday, March 9th, during SNA’s 48th annual Legislative Action Conference, Secretary Perdue and a USDA panel will address school nutrition professionals on a wide range of child nutrition topics. As part of LAC’s “Charge to the Hill,” attendees will meet with their Congressional representatives on Tuesday to discuss SNA’s 2020 Position Paper, which highlights the need to expand access to school meals.