Schools in the U.S. will be able to continue providing meals to students following passage of federal legislation which lifts the requirement for students to gather in school buildings to receive those meals. The legislation is in response to nationwide concerns for children who faced food insecurities even before the worldwide pandemic caused by COVID-19.
“Due to the closure of schools related to the coronavirus, countless families have expressed concern about where their child’s next meal will come from,” Kentucky First District Republican Congressman James Comer said. “This legislation grants needed flexibility for school food service programs across the country to continue providing nutritious meals during this time of uncertainty.”
Comer introduced the bill alongside Oregon Democratic Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. The COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response Act allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture to waive requirements for children to gather at schools in order for school meals to be distributed. The legislation also allows flexible substitutions for meal components depending on availability of ingredients.
Mayfield Independent Schools Food Service Director Leah Feagin said the law will provide a great benefit to children in the region.
“Thankfully, we have been able to utilize community resources and a federal waiver to continue distributing breakfast and lunch to our students. But this law will ensure that there is needed flexibility for our schools to look out for the nutritional needs of our children,” Feagin explained.
Nearly 22 million children receive free or reduced-price lunches at their public schools. Kentucky schools are closed for at least two weeks in an attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus.