The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Monday the extension of "several flexibilities" through as late as Dec. 31, 2020, that will allow summer meal program operators to continue serving free meals to children into the fall months.
According to the USDA, the decision will help ensure children have access to nutritious foods through Congressionally appropriated funding as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As our nation reopens and people return to work, it remains critical our children continue to receive safe, healthy, and nutritious food," said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. "
"During the COVID-19 pandemic, USDA has provided an unprecedented amount of flexibilities to help schools feed kids through the school meal programs, and today, we are also extending summer meal program flexibilities for as long as we can, legally and financially,” Secretary Perdue went on to say.
The USDA's Food and Nutrition Service is extending a suite of nationwide waivers for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) through the end of 2020, or until available funding runs out.
- Allowing SFSP and SSO meals to be served in all areas and at no cost.
- Permitting meals to be served outside of the typically-required group settings and meal times.
- Waiving meal pattern requirements as necessary.
- Allowing parents and guardians to pick-up meals for their children.
The USDA says that together, these flexibilities make sure meal options for children continue to be available under all circumstances.
More information on the extension of the free meals can be found on https://www.usda.gov/.