The Senate voted Thursday to extend COVID-era school lunch flexibilities that have prevented children all over the country from going hungry during the summer and throughout the school year, but the work to beat the deadline for the expiration of the program is not yet done.
The legislation that had passed the House by a 376-42 vote earlier in the day had eliminated reduced-price meals, allowing children who are eligible for reduced-price meals through the USDA National School Lunch Program to to get free meals rather than pay 40 cents for lunch and 30 cents for breakfast.
But then Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul objected, and pushed for the return of the reduced-price meal category.
Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow said there were not 10 Republicans who would have voted to block a filibuster threat on that issue, thus the compromise.
This is your daily reminder of what voting Republican does for the working class.
At least the bill that made it out of the Senate keeps things moving forward.
The House will now need to vote on the amended Senate bill to get it to President Biden in time to beat the expiration deadline.
“Parents across Virginia are facing higher costs across the board – the last thing they need right now is to lose the commonsense flexibilities that have made it easier for them to keep their kids fed,” Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) said in a joint statement. “We’re very proud to have voted to pass bipartisan legislation that will extend these flexibilities and help keep food insecurity at bay. We hope that the House will pass this bill expeditiously and send it to the President’s desk for approval.”
The Keep Kids Fed Act will:
- Extend flexibilities for summer meals in 2022 by waiving area eligibility so summer providers can serve all children for free and continuing options like meal delivery and grab-and-go.
- Extend some of the administrative and paperwork flexibilities for schools through the 2022-23 school year.
- Allow students with a family income at or below 185 percent of poverty level to qualify for free or reduced-cost meals for the 2022-23 school year.
- Increase the reimbursement rate for school lunch and school breakfast to help offset the increased cost of food and operating expenses. Schools will receive an additional 40 cents for each lunch and 15 cents for each breakfast served.
- Provide an additional 10 cents per meal or snack for Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) daycares and home providers, and expand eligibility to more providers. When combined, these actions will help offset increase costs for providers.