LETTER: USDA should extend child nutrition waivers

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Editor: As kids across Colorado head back to school, too many will miss out on school meals because the USDA has not extended critical child nutrition waivers that allow schools and community groups to safely and effectively feed children during this pandemic.

When schools across the country moved to remote learning last March, the USDA provided them with flexibilities that enabled them to continue serving school meals through the summer meals programs. But these waivers expire as soon as the new school year begins, which for hundreds of thousands of kids, is right now.
This is unacceptable. Without these waivers, schools will be burdened with cumbersome, unworkable administrative requirements and parents will have a difficult time getting meals for their kids.

Today, an unprecedented number of children — 14 million, according to Census data — are going hungry because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is five times higher than numbers reported last year and nearly three times higher than at the peak of the Great Recession. Given the serious impact hunger has on children’s health, development, education and earnings, these consequences will last a lifetime if we don’t take action now.

The USDA holds the power to help, but it is too slow to act. It’s time USDA gets its job done. I urge USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to remove the red tape and extend all child nutrition waivers for the entire 2020-2021 school year.

— Lisa Davis, via [email protected]