USDA Expands Free Lunch for School Children Across the US Through Spring 2022
In September 2020, we learned that area students would be eligible for free lunch thanks to a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture. The grant was initiated in an attempt to ensure that school-aged children would have access to nutritious meals amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
We've now learned that the United States Department of Agriculture has extended made the decision to extend their National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option or SSO. Normally this particular program is only offered during the summer months but the decision to expand the program into 2022 will have a massive impact on students returning to in-person education as we continue to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the USDA,
Up to 12 million children are currently living in households where they may not always have enough to eat during the pandemic.
These aren't the only actions that the USDA has taken as they continue to fight against food insecurity They are also working to provide economic relief for families who are struggling. They have increased both SNAP and WIC benefits as well as expanding additional programs and resources. Below are some of the program expansions and extended resources that have some thanks to The Biden-Harris Administration’s American Rescue Plan Act,
- Extending a 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits— providing over $1.1 billion per month in additional benefits for about 41 million participants—through September 2021;
- Adding $1.1 billion in new funding for territories that operate nutrition assistance block grants—home to nearly 3 million Americans—to support those hard-hit by the pandemic;
- Extending and expanding P-EBT—a program that served over 8.4 million families with children at its peak last year—through the duration of the public health emergency;
- Funding meals for young adults experiencing homelessness through Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) emergency shelters;
- Providing nearly $900 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), including a temporary increase in fruit and vegetable vouchers to $35 per month and an historic investment in innovation and outreach to better serve more than 6.2 million people that use WIC to support a healthy start for infants and young children.
The American Rescue Plan Act will provide more than $12 Billion for the programs in an attempt to address the hardships caused to families struggling to get by because of the Covid-19 pandemic. To learn more, visit USDA.gov.
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