U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the extension of three nationwide waivers, giving child nutrition program operators the flexibility they need to continue to feed children while promoting social distancing and keeping families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Perdue made the announcement in a May 15 news release.


USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is extending the following waivers nationwide through Aug. 31:


• Non-Congregate Feeding: FNS is allowing meals to be served to children outside of the normally-required group setting to support social distancing.


• Parent Pickup: FNS is allowing parents and/or guardians to pick up meals and bring them home to their children.


• Meal Times: FNS is waiving requirements that meals be served at certain standard times to allow for grab-n-go options. This also allows for multiple days-worth of meals to be provided at once.


In addition to granting significant program flexibilities through both nationwide and individual state waivers, FNS is rapidly approving states for Pandemic-EBT, which provides food-purchasing benefits, equal to the value of school meals, to households with children who would otherwise be receiving free or reduced-price meals at school. FNS has approved 26 plans and continues to review new plans as they are submitted.


“USDA has been extremely aggressive in expanding flexibilities to ensure Americans who have been impacted by the coronavirus continue to receive the food they need for themselves and their families,” said Perdue. “As our nation reopens and people return to work, we want to continue to be flexible since there is not a one size fits all approach to feeding kids. Extending these waivers throughout the summer ensures local operators can make plans that best suit their communities and keep children fed.”


FNS administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.


To learn more about FNS’s critical response to the COVID-19 outbreak, visit www.fns.usda.gov/coronavirus and follow FNS on Twitter at @USDANutrition.