Biden Administration Takes Additional Steps to Strengthen Child Nutrition Programs

Department Giving Schools Another Nearly $1 Billion Boost For Buying Food

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2022 – The Biden administration announced today that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide nearly $1 billion in additional funding to schools to support the purchase of American food for their meal programs. The department also applauds the president’s recent signing of the Keep Kids Fed Act, which equips schools, summer meals and childcare food programs with additional resources so they can continue to serve children through the 2022-2023 school year. Both actions are a response to the major challenges that infant nutrition program operators still face, such as high food costs and supply chain disruptions.

“The Biden administration knows that the ongoing impact of supply chain problems and rising food costs remain a challenge for many schools and infant nutrition operators, and we are grateful to Congress for stepping up to ease some of their burdens,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. † “For our part, this funding boost is yet another step the administration is taking to ensure that every child who needs a meal gets one. Regardless of the circumstances, USDA and all of our partners must continue to work together to provide our youth with the healthy meals they count on.”

The department’s $943 million boost is provided through USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation† Funds will be distributed by government agencies to schools across the country so they can purchase domestically grown food for their meal programs. This aid builds on the $1 Billion in Supply Chain Assistance Funds USDA previously allocated in December 2021, which states can use this school year and beyond to provide schools with funding to purchase goods.

The Keep Kids Fed Act will also provide assistance to program operators across the country by:

  • Extending nationwide flexibility to summer meal programs through September 2022, including allowing locations to continue serving meals in all areas, at no cost to families;
  • Provide schools with a temporary additional allowance of 40 cents per lunch and 15 cents per breakfast, and childcare centers with an additional allowance of 10 cents per meal;
  • All daycare centers are provided with the higher temporary reimbursement percentage for the 2022-2023 school year;
  • Equipping USDA with added flexibility to support schools, as needed, based on their local circumstances.

This new power does not allow all students to eat free school meals in the 2022-2023 school year. Nevertheless, the department will continue to offer other program flexibilities within its existing purview, such as:

  • Equip schools and program operators to respond quickly to health-related safety issues by bringing in and/or collecting meals from parents; and
  • Extension of deadlines for districts to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision, allowing schools serving many students in need to provide all meals for free without collecting applications from families.

For next school year, families in most school districts must apply through their school to determine whether their household qualifies for free or discounted school meals, as it was before the pandemic. USDA also supports the extension of direct certification, which uses existing data to certify children for free or discounted meals without an additional application. All states are required to directly certify students for free meals if their household receives SNAP benefits, and some states also certify directly for free meals at a discounted price based on participating in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, or Medicaid . States interested in participating in the Medicaid Direct Certification Demonstration Project are invited to respond to the current application application (PDF, 649 KB), which closes September 30, 2022. In the 2019-2020 school year, 1.4 million students received free meals at a discounted price thanks to direct certification through Medicaid.

“USDA is working with our child nutrition partners to support them in delivering vital, nutritious meals to tens of millions of children every school day,” said Stacy Dean, Deputy Undersecretary of Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. “There is still a long way to go, but the additional support and funding for our operators will help them continue to serve our children well. We can – and will – overcome these challenges together.”

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USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming the U.S. food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and revenue streams for farmers and producers leveraging climate. smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and working for equality across the department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

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