‘Keep Kids Fed Act’ gets signed into law

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – The "Keep Kids Fed Act" was officially signed into law on Monday, according to an announcement made by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer.

The bill extends child nutrition waivers that give essential funding and flexibility to schools, daycares, nonprofits and other meal providers, allowing them to continue providing free meals to students this summer.

READ MORE: RCSD students can eat for free all summer long

The waivers were originally authorized by Congress during the height of the pandemic to give school food programs the flexibility needed to feed as many students as possible, but the waivers were set to expire on June 30.

The new legislation allows these programs to continue, ensuring that an estimated 800,000 students across NYS will be receiving healthy meals throughout the summer.

“No child should ever go hungry, and now schools will have the funding and flexibility needed to ensure kids stay healthy and fed this summer. Over 800,000 New York students and millions of children across the country depend on these waivers for daily meals, and this bill gives our schools the support they need to continue to provide free nutritious meals and the flexibility they need to operate amidst the ongoing supply chain challenges,” said Senator Schumer. “Summer is often the time of year when food insecurity is highest for children and this support comes just in the nick of time. I am proud to have led the Senate to ensure these waivers could continue curbing childhood hunger and giving our families the peace of mind they need to not worry about where their kids’ next meal is coming from this summer.”

A recent USDA survey showed that 90% of school district’s food programs are depending on these waivers to offer free meals, with 92% experiencing supply chain issues and a quarter experiencing staffing challenges for their nutrition programs.

Specifically, the bill will:

• Extend flexibilities for summer meals in 2022 which will make it easier to feed all students, especially students in rural areas, during the summer months through options like meal delivery and grab-and-go.

• Increase the reimbursement rate for school lunch and school breakfast to help offset the increased cost of food and operating expenses. Schools will receive an additional 40 cents for each lunch and 15 cents for each breakfast served.

• Help daycares and home providers in the Child and Adult Care Food Program offset increased costs by providing an additional 10 cents per meal or snack.

• Extend some of the administrative and paperwork flexibilities for schools through the 2022-23 school year to help schools streamline their meal operations and operate amidst supply chain disruptions.