FoodCorps Applauds Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Stabenow and Senator Murkowski for Introducing School Meals for All Bill with Bipartisan Support
Mar. 31, 2022—After Congress’s disappointing exclusion of funding for extending school meals waivers in the recently-passed omnibus spending bill, Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), with the support of FoodCorps and a broad coalition, are supporting the wellbeing of millions of schoolchildren. An additional 50 senators joined Stabenow and Murkowski in sponsoring the “Support Kids Not Red Tape Act of 2022.”
The bipartisan “Support Kids Not Red Tape Act” would:
- Extend USDA’s authority to issue waivers from June 30, 2022 to September 30, 2023. 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 flexibilities end.
- Direct Secretary Tom Vilsack to provide technical assistance to states on drafting transition plans and to School Food Authorities on meeting meal standards during the waiver period.
The current school meal waivers, which fund school meals for all children regardless of income, are set to expire on June 30, 2022. These waivers have provided crucial support to schools and families throughout ongoing economic, supply chain, and labor challenges. The loss of school meal waivers will have real, lasting impacts on kids. Administrative barriers, or “red tape,” prevent too many kids from accessing the school meals they need so they can focus on their education and wellbeing without facing food insecurity.
Mary Rochelle, FoodCorps alumna, said, “We don’t expect children to pay for textbooks that they use in school. We don’t expect them to pay for the desks they sit at. A nutritious meal is just as essential as those things, maybe more, for students to be able to perform well in school.”
Dr. Robert S. Harvey, President of FoodCorps, applauded Chairwoman Stabenow and Senator Murkowski, saying, “This legislation will go a long way toward nourishing our children at school and their overall wellness and academic achievement. I’m encouraged by the broad bipartisan support for the ‘Support Kids Not Red Tape Act’ and that our elected officials are addressing the acute challenges facing our families and communities around food access and education post-pandemic and beyond.”
FoodCorps and our coalition partners have been working to extend the waivers since the beginning of the pandemic. FoodCorps will continue to support schools by advocating for funding for food education, upgrades to school meal equipment, and local procurement to be included in upcoming legislation.
Together with communities, FoodCorps connects kids to healthy food in school so that every child—regardless of race, place, or class—gets the nourishment they need to thrive. Our AmeriCorps leaders transform schools into places where all students learn what healthy food is, care where it comes from, and eat it every day. Building on this foundation of direct impact, FoodCorps develops leaders, forges networks, and pursues policy reforms that in time have the potential to improve all of our nation’s 100,000 schools. To learn more about FoodCorps’ work across the country, visit http://www.foodcorps.org or follow @foodcorps on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.