Letter from KIPP and Partners on USDA Child Nutrition Waivers

To The Honorable George “Sonny” Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture:

On behalf of 14 organizations, which are committed to serving our nation’s children and young people and represent nearly 3.35 million children in over 7,613 schools. We urge you to consider the needs of some of our most vulnerable populations. We must ensure that our nation’s future leaders are given every opportunity to succeed and, today, that means ensuring that their nutritional needs are met in a time of global crisis. We urge you to work closely with the US Department of Education (USED) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Congress to ensure that every child continues to have equitable access to all of their needs, including healthy meals, in the coming school year.

We want to thank the USDA for its flexibility granting waivers of school meal program requirements this past school year and over the summer. We are encouraged by the many extensions for the 2020-2021 school year. We ask that you also extend the following waivers nationwide until the end of 2020-2021 school year.

  • Unexpected School Closures Waiver
  • Afterschool Activity Waiver
  • Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program Parent Pick-Up Waiver
  • Waiver of Child Nutrition Monitoring
  • Waiver of Food Management Company Contract Duration Requirements
  • Waiver of Local School Wellness Assessments
  • Area Eligibility Waiver
  • Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) Waivers

We also ask that USDA begin to reimburse schools for the transportation costs of delivering meals to low-income students. As schools face the countless additional costs in the midst of the pandemic, they need relief for these costs before they become insurmountable. We ask that additional funds be made available to assist with the cost of delivering meals to those with the greatest need.

As schools begin to open throughout the nation, families and school leaders are balancing meeting all the needs of children – academic, health and safety. Districts, CMOs, and individual schools are making decisions on physical reopening based on their local contexts and the realities of how COVID-19 has or could affect their communities. For many schools, this means delaying a physical reopening by several weeks or structuring a system where students are in hybrid models.

Regardless of the model chosen by a school or parent, we must ensure that the nutritional needs of students are met. There are over 30 million students that receive free and reduced-price lunch through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). The majority of whom have been disproportionally affected by the novel coronavirus – NSLP serves students that live in households at or below 185% of poverty – the majority of whom are at or below 130%. For many, the NSLP is their sole source of healthy meals.

During this health crisis, we must ensure that our nation’s children are given every opportunity to thrive. Providing nutritious meals not only protects their health but prepares them for learning. We thank the USDA for its continued work to keep children fed throughout the upcoming school year.

Blackstone Valley Prep
Breakthrough Public Schools
Camino Nuevo Charter Academy
Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School
Green Dot Public Schools National
Grimmway Schools
KIPP Public Schools
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
Noble Schools
PAVE
ReGeneration Schools
Rocky Mountain Preparatory Schools
Uncommon Schools
Uplift Education

CC:

The Honorable Betsy DeVos
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
The Honorable Pat Roberts
The Honorable Debbie Stabenow
The Honorable John Hoeven
The Honorable Jeff Merkley
The Honorable Bobby Scott
The Honorable Virginia Foxx
The Honorable Sanford Bishop, Jr.
The Honorable Jeff Fortenberry

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