U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined a bipartisan group of their colleagues in introducing the Support Kids Not Red Tape Act, which would grant the USDA additional flexibility so that schools and summer meal sites can stay open and improve access to free, healthy meals for children.
The additional flexibility would mean less red tape and more options for families, including by allowing families to pick up a week’s worth of meals or having meals delivered to their home on the school bus.
These flexibilities have been crucial to feeding students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. With 90 percent of schools still facing many challenges as they return to normal operations, these flexibilities would give schools much-needed support to keep kids fed.
“Every child, regardless of where they live, deserves nutritious meals,” Warner and Kaine said. “Ensuring that school districts have the flexibility and federal resources they need to keep feeding their students is essential to our fight to end childhood hunger in America. This legislation will help us do that.”
The bipartisan Support Kids Not Red Tape Act would:
- Extend USDA’s authority to issue waivers from June 30, 2022 to September 30, 2023, which would extend USDA school meal flexibilities. This is simply a continuation of the authority USDA has had and exercised throughout the pandemic. This would cover this summer, as well as the full 2022-2023 school year, and summer of 2023, and create a transition plan to help schools adjust back to normal school meal operations starting October 1, 2023.
- Direct states to submit a transition plan to USDA so that schools will be prepared and supported when transitioning back to normal National School Lunch Program operations after the increased flexibilities end.
- Direct the Secretary to provide technical assistance to states on drafting transition plans and to School Food Authorities on meeting meal standards during the waiver period.