Department giving schools another nearly $1 billion grant to buy groceries
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-grown food for their meal programs. The department also welcomes the President’s recent signing of the Keep Kids Fed Act, which provides schools, summer luncheons and child care programs with additional resources so they can continue to care for children through the 2022-2023 school year. Both actions are in response to the significant challenges that child nutrition program operators continue to face, such as: E.g. high food costs and supply chain disruptions.
“The Biden administration knows that the ongoing impact of supply chain problems and rising food costs remain challenging for many schools and child nutrition operators, and we’re grateful that Congress is stepping up to lighten some of their burdens,” Agriculture Secretary Tom said vilsack . “On our part, this funding push is another step the administration is taking to ensure every child in need of a meal gets one. Regardless of the circumstances, the USDA and all of our partners must continue to work together to provide our little ones with the healthy meals they are counting on.”
The $943 million increase from the department will be provided by the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation. The funds will be distributed by government agencies to schools across the country so they can purchase locally grown food for their meal programs. This assistance builds on USDA’s $1 billion in supply chain grants previously made available by the USDA in December 2021, which states can use this school year and next to fund schools for merchandise purchases.
The Keep Kids Fed Act will also help program operators across the country by:
- Expanding statewide flexibility to summer mealtime programs through September 2022, including the ability for sites to continue serving meals in all areas free to families;
- schools with an additional temporary reimbursement of 40 cents per lunch and 15 cents per breakfast and day care centers with an additional reimbursement of 10 cents per meal;
- Provide the higher temporary reimbursement rate for all family daycares for the 2022-23 school year;
- Providing the USDA with additional flexibilities to support schools as needed based on their local conditions.
This new authority will not allow all students to eat free school meals in the 2022-2023 school year. Nonetheless, the department will continue to offer other program flexibilities within its existing authority, such as:
- Enable schools and program operators to respond quickly to health-related safety concerns by offering takeaway and/or parent-pickup meals; and
- Extending the deadlines for districts to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision, which allows schools that serve many needy students to offer all meals for free without collecting applications from families.
For the next school year, families in most school districts must submit an application through their school to determine if their household is eligible for free or discounted school meals, as they were before the pandemic. The USDA also supports the expansion of direct certification, which uses existing data to certify free or discounted meals for children 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 directly certify free and discounted meals based on participation in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations or Medicaid. States interested in participating in the Direct Certification for Medicaid Demonstration Project are invited to respond to the current application request (PDF, 649 KB), which closes September 30, 2022. In the 2019-2020 school year, 1.4 million students enrolled in free and discounted meals thanks to direct certification through Medicaid.
“USDA works with our child nutrition partners to help them provide essential, nutritious meals for millions of children every school day,” said Stacy Dean, assistant undersecretary for 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 – master these challenges together.”
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The USDA touches the lives of all Americans in so many positive ways every day. In the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming America’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, and building new markets and income streams for farmers and producers who leveraging the climate, intelligent food and forestry practices, historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and a department-wide commitment to equity through removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
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