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USDA extends child nutrition program


On June 10, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a nationwide extension of the USDA’s child nutrition programs.

This waiver allows local partners, who have been working overtime serving meals to kids during the health crisis, the ability to continue serving free meals to all children — regardless of where they live — for the remainder of the summer.

“As our nation reopens and people return to work, it remains critical our children continue to receive safe, healthy, and nutritious food,” Secretary Perdue said. “We are extending one of the significant flexibilities provided in March during the coronavirus national emergency to schools, summer sites, and other folks who operate our programs so they can best adapt to the situation on-the-ground and serve our children well,” said Secretary Perdue. “This nationwide flexibility ensures America’s kids will continue to be fed this summer.”

Economic developer Dr. Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter, “It is essential for children to be fed nutritious meals on a consistent basis. USDA’s willingness to extend the waivers nationwide is an important community development action that will help provide stability for families in uncertain times. Thank you, Secretary Sonny Perdue and USDA, for taking significant steps to ensure our nation’s children do not go hungry amidst the pandemic.”

This action is part of USDA’s ongoing commitment to making it as easy as possible for local program operators to get food to the children who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of jobs were lost due to the forced economic shutdown to fight the spread of the coronavirus, many of them permanently.

Since the start of the national public health crisis, USDFA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has used a whole of America approach to ensure that those Americans in need have access to one or more of the 15 nutrition assistance programs under USDA’s umbrella. FNS approved over 2,800 flexibilities and will continue to work with states and other partners as the nation continues to focus to reopening state economies in a safe way.

Secretary Perdue recently announced the extension of three additional nationwide waivers, giving child nutrition program operators the flexibility they need to continue leveraging innovative solutions in support of social distancing, such as delivery and grab n’ go, throughout the remaining summer months until school is back in session.

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The nationwide waiver extended as part of today’s announcement is for area eligibility. This waiver allows all children in all areas to receive free meals through USDA’s summer meals programs. Typically, USDA funded summer meals sites are restricted to areas with low incomes.

USDA has taken a number of other actions to ensure that children have food to eat throughout the pandemic.

USDA’s interactive site finder featuring more than 60,000 sites so families can find free meals for children in their area. Families who need free meals can find a site at the USDA Meals for Kids Site Finder website

The USDA has approved 41 states, including Alabama, for Pandemic-EBT, which provides food-purchasing benefits, equal to the value of school meals, to households with children who would otherwise be receiving free or reduced-price meals at school.

USDA has distributed more than 10 million meals in 36 states directly to low-income children in rural areas through Meals to You, a public-private partnership with the Baylor University Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global, and PepsiCo.

USDA administers 15 different nutrition assistance programs under the FNS umbrella.

863 Americans, including 23 Alabamians, died from COVID-19 on Tuesday raising the nation’s death toll from the global pandemic to 123,473. 36,015 more Americans, including 639 Alabamians, learned that they have tested positive on Tuesday for the coronavirus. While the economy is reopening, persons are advised to continue to wash their hands, practice social distancing, and wear masks when out in public. Alabama remains under a Safer at Home order. If you do not need to leave your home, then don’t.

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Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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