Statement attributable to Luis Guardia, President, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)
WASHINGTON, March 9, 2022 — The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) is deeply disappointed that the extension of the child nutrition waivers was not included in the Omnibus spending bill posted today by the Senate Appropriations Committee. If the waiver extension is not included in the final bill, the waivers will end on June 30, 2022, causing millions of children to face a hunger cliff when they lose access to summer and school meals.
These waivers have been critical in supporting nutrition operations so that children have access to school, afterschool, and summer meals throughout the pandemic, and they are still needed to help schools and families recover from and respond to the economic, health, and educational fallout.
A recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) survey of school nutrition departments highlights the ongoing need for the waivers. An estimated 92 percent of school nutrition departments reported supply chain challenges in school year 2021-2022, with the public, larger, and rural ones being more likely to report struggling. Nearly three in four school nutrition departments reported staffing challenges. Both have created untold administrative challenges and increased program costs.
Under this proposed bill, schools, youth-serving and community-based organizations, and child care providers will lack the additional resources and flexibility needed to effectively provide meals to the millions of children who need them.
Hungry children can’t wait. We urge Congress to include child nutrition waiver authority in the omnibus bill before its final passage.
The Food Research & Action Center improves the nutrition, health, and well-being of people struggling against poverty-related hunger in the United States through advocacy, partnerships, and by advancing bold and equitable policy solutions. To learn more, visit FRAC.org and follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.