June 24, 2022
On Friday, June 24, 2022, Congress passed the Keep Kids Fed Act (S. 2089), a bipartisan and bicameral bill to help mitigate the impact of the loss of the child nutrition waivers due to expire next Thursday, June 30, 2022. This bill is an important first step that would increase reimbursements to schools and child care centers, support access to summer meals, and streamline access to healthy meals for children in family child care.
The bill was introduced in the House by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and in the Senate by Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR). Here are the provisions of the Keep Kids Fed Act:
- Extends USDA’s authority to issue summer nutrition waivers through September 30, 2022; meal pattern waivers through June 30, 2022, and non-cost nationwide waivers through school year 2022–2023.
- Increases the school breakfast reimbursement by 15 cents and the school lunch reimbursement by 40 cents.
- Extends the area eligibility waiver allowing family child care homes to receive the higher Tier 1 reimbursements through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Streamlines access to healthy meals for children in family child care homes by extending the area eligibility test waiver. This year, one of the most pressing problems is that schools do not have the income data needed to establish area eligibility. In addition, this test is not an effective mechanism; it misses many providers serving children from low income households, especially in rural and suburban areas.
- Increases CACFP reimbursements by 10 cents for each meal and snack for child care providers and afterschool programs. This will help to stem participation declines, support good nutrition, and provide relief for struggling child care to cope with supply chain and cost issues. These enhanced reimbursements will make it more affordable to provide the healthy foods required by CACFP. These healthy CACFP meals and snacks for young children in child care are essential to supporting good health and development.
These provisions are helpful for the summer, for supporting school nutrition operations, and supporting access to child care. However, families will face a hunger cliff when they lose healthy school meals for all when the school year starts. Congress must act to extend the critical waiver that allows schools to offer meals to all children at no charge through this upcoming school year, and to make additional long-term investments in the child nutrition programs, including expanding community eligibility, and permanently expanding Summer EBT nationwide in the upcoming budget reconciliation that is being currently discussed.