Congress Passes Keep Kids Fed Act, Extending USDA’s Authority to Issue Summer Nutrition Waivers Through September 2022
Hunger Solutions New York commends Congress for last week’s passage of the bipartisan Keep Kids Fed Act. The bill is an important first step in mitigating a looming hunger cliff as we approach the expiration of critical pandemic-related flexibilities and benefits, including child nutrition waivers originally set to expire on June 30, 2022.
- Extends USDA’s authority to issue certain child nutrition waivers, including:
- Summer nutrition waivers through September 30, 2022. Note: We are awaiting guidance from USDA and NYSED regarding waiver extensions for this summer. Sponsors and sites should not make changes to their operations without further guidance and approval from NYSED.
- Meal pattern waivers through June 30, 2023.
- No-cost waivers through the 2022-2023 school year. Note: this does not include waivers allowing free meals for all students.
- Increases school meal reimbursements by 40 cents per lunch and 15 cents per breakfast through the 2022-2023 school year.
- Extends Tier 1 reimbursement rates to all family child care homes participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), through June 30, 2023.
- Increases CACFP reimbursements by 10 cents for each meal and snack for child care and afterschool providers through the 2022-2023 school year.
We appreciate our delegation’s support of this vital step to ensure children’s access to summer meals and alleviate some of the financial and operational challenges schools and child care providers will face in the upcoming school year.
Still, there is much more to be done to avert a child hunger crisis. The legislation does not extend flexibilities allowing school meals for all students at no cost, leaving approximately 800,000 New York students without access to free school meals for all in the 2022-2023 school year. While schools participating in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) will be able to continue providing no-cost meals through that provision, approximately 2,000 schools across New York will be forced to revert back to a tiered payment system that is stigmatizing, inefficient, and leaves many children behind. This shift is happening at the same time as families face higher prices at the grocery store, and as schools continue to struggle with rising costs, staffing shortages, and supply chain disruptions.
Congress must act to make additional investments in child nutrition programs, starting with an expansion of CEP and Summer EBT in the upcoming budget reconciliation or another viable legislative vehicle. Increasing CEP eligibility and reimbursements and creating a statewide CEP option would be gamechangers for New York, one of several states that could fully leverage a statewide option to provide meals at no cost to all students. Over the summer months, a nationwide Summer EBT program would reach more than 2 million children in our state, ensuring kids are well-nourished and ready to learn when they return to school in the fall.
While we urge these federal investments, New York cannot and need not wait for federal action to ensure students in our state have access to the healthy school meals they need to learn and thrive. Join our Healthy School Meals for All NY Kids campaign and view our recent campaign launch webinar to learn more and take action as we call on New York State to guarantee a healthy school breakfast and lunch for all students at no cost every school day.
Help Reach NY Kids and Teens with Summer Meals