July 31, 2020
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Doug Jones of Alabama, alongside a group of his colleagues, is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide additional financial relief to schools to help them expand their school meals programs for the 2020-2021 school year.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools around the country to close their buildings and shift instruction to online and distance-learning models,” the senators wrote in a letter to USDA. “For many children, school breakfast and lunch may be the only healthy and regular meals they receive.”
The senators continued, “The economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has also resulted in millions of parents losing their jobs, and millions more students will be dependent on school-provided meals. School meal program directors must begin procuring food, equipment, and supplies and placing orders now in preparation for the upcoming school year.”
To help ensure school meal program directors and staff have the certainty that they need to begin preparing for the upcoming school year, the senators are urging the USDA to extend a variety of waivers that will help ensure low-income students can access school-provided meals throughout the upcoming school year.
Additionally, the senators are calling on the USDA to reimburse schools for the transportation costs for delivering meals to low-income students: “While many school meal programs are managing these costs for the time-being, they cannot continue absorbing them for the foreseeable future. We ask that the USDA make additional funds available to schools to assist with the cost of delivering meals to low-income students until regular school operations are restored.”
The full letter is available here.