AASA, NSBA Issue Responses to USDA’s Extension of School Meal Waivers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
James Minichello             
703-774-6953     
jminichello@aasa.org 

Jason Amos
703-838-6719
jamos@nsba.org  

Alexandria, Va. – April 20, 2021 – Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, and Anna Maria Chávez, executive director & CEO of the National School Boards Association issued the following statements in response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Nutrition Service’s decision to extend a set of nationwide waivers that will help school meal programs feed students through June 30, 2022.

Daniel A. Domenech, AASA
“As schools and students face uncertainty in the wake of the pandemic, one area that continues to shine brightly is the critical work school systems are doing—in large part due to flexibilities granted through the U.S. Department of Agriculture—to help keep students fed even while schools were closed.

“Throughout the last year, we have seen record levels of food insecurity across the nation. While our schools have made tremendous strides toward re-opening with in-person learning and returning to some semblance of normalcy, it is clear that our students and school food-service operations are continuing to recover from the pandemic. As we enter this new transition period, USDA's decision to allow schools to operate the Seamless Summer Option and offer all meals free to students as well as provide continue targeted meal pattern flexibility and technical support to local education agencies will give superintendents the tools to tackle this issue and customize meal service designed to fit local needs. The extension of these flexibilities through the 2021-22 school year will ensure food security as we continue to return to normalcy.

“AASA and NSBA advocated for these flexibilities early in the pandemic because of their importance in helping food service operators plan for the fall and reach every child who relies on free and reduced-price school meals, regardless of what the school day may look like. As such, we are happy to see that the Department is continuing its commitment to providing superintendents and school boards with the flexibilities necessary to meet local needs.”

Anna Maria Chávez, NSBA
“NSBA appreciates the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s actions to extend flexibilities for child nutrition services during this pandemic. As our school boards continue COVID-19 recovery efforts within their respective communities, these actions will allow their school food authorities the supports needed to help address food insecurity among children and provide nutritious meals throughout this coming school year.

“The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service’s (FNS) extension of flexibilities for sodium, grain, and milk targets will help reduce plate waste that many school districts have reported. Additionally, the extension of waivers will allow children and families the supports they need for COVID-19 recovery.

“These actions announced today help provide certainty for many children whose families have been impacted by COVID-19 and they increase flexibility and relief for school districts to successfully administer school meal programs.”

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For specific questions, please contact Noelle Ellerson Ng, AASA associate executive director, advocacy and governance, at nellerson@aasa.org.

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About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.

About NSBA
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is a federation of state associations and the U.S. territory of the Virgin Islands that represent locally elected school board officials serving approximately 51 million public school students regardless of their disability, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or citizenship. Working with and through our state association members, NSBA advocates for equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. We believe that public education is a civil right necessary to the dignity and freedom of the American people and that each child deserves equitable access to an education that maximizes their individual potential. For more information, visit www.nsba.org/About.