Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) joined U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and 49 of their Senate colleagues in introducing the Support Kids Not Red Tape Act to ensure children throughout the Nation have access to healthy meals through school nutrition waivers.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, waiver flexibilities have been crucial to keeping children fed, as they allow many families to receive free meals over the summer, help sponsors provide meals to children in rural locations, make meal pick-up easier for parents and ease administrative burden on school staff. This bill would extend U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) school meal flexibilities from June 30, 2022 to September 30, 2023. USDA requested this authority be extended in the fiscal year 2023 spending bill.
“For many families across Pennsylvania, access to school meals is vital to prevent children from going hungry. Ensuring all kids across the country have reliable access to nutritious meals is one of the most important things we can do to invest in the future of our Nation’s leaders and workers—when children have a healthy start in life, they are better able to learn and grow. I urge my colleagues to support passage of the Support Kids Not Red Tape Act to give school and summer feeding sites the flexibility they need to serve millions of children who need access to meals,” said Senator Casey.
School food providers are struggling due to supply chain shortages and price spikes, as well as more expensive program costs over the last two years. Failure to extend the waiver would impact Pennsylvania’s food and agricultural industry, as it would mean fewer dollars spent with PA growers and vendors companies who produce and process foods used in school meal programs.
A broad spectrum of groups sent in letters to Congress to extend the child nutrition waiver authority. Letters included:
- Nearly 2,000 anti-hunger, nutrition, education, children’s, school, preschool, and out of school providers, faith groups and industry groups, among others, from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- Mayors Alliance to End Childhood Hunger, which includes representatives from 47 towns;
- General Mills, and
- 23 groups, including the School Nutrition Association, School Superintendents Association, National Education Association, National PTA, and American Commodity Distribution Alliance, among others.