WASHINGTON – Following efforts led by U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) agreed to fully extend school meal waivers through the end of the 2020-2021 school year, giving schools the flexibility that they need to fully serve students whether or not they are attending school in person.
Senator Hassan co-led a bipartisan group of her colleagues in requesting that the USDA extend these waivers back in July. Following the Senators’ outreach, the USDA announced that it would extend some of the school meal waivers only until the end of 2020, not the end of the school year in 2021 like the Senators had requested. In response, Senator Hassan led another letter with 28 of her colleagues to the USDA in September, calling once again on the Department to extend all school meal waivers through the end of the 2020-2021 school year.
“As this public health and economic crisis continues to place more children at risk of food insecurity, I am pleased that the Department of Agriculture heeded our calls to extend flexibilities that allow schools to provide meals to students through the end of the school year,” Senator Hassan said. “The Department’s announcement will ensure that millions of families have reliable access to nutritious and healthy food for their children for the remainder of the school year, regardless of whether they are in-person learning.”
“School nutrition professionals across the country were elated with the USDA’s announcement on Friday,” said Amanda A. Venezia, Director of Dining Services for the Londonderry School District. “These waivers allow us to continue with our current processes providing our learners access to meals whether they are in school or remote learning. Keep in mind that these meal programs were not incepted to encompass the restrictions and hurdles we have had to overcome during this pandemic. We have been on the front lines serving meals since March 16th and we will continue to provide for our students and community. Thank you to all our legislators who supported this effort but particularly from Senator Hassan and her team who I have been in contact with since early March.”