School districts are distributing millions of meals for students per week — primarily through grab-and-go sites and school bus deliveries — but nutrition experts are shifting their focus toward how to keep feeding students over the summer.
Waivers from the federal government allowing schools to serve all students in “non-congregate settings” and granting some flexibility over what’s included in meals will expire June 30. Advocacy organizations, such as the School Nutrition Association and the Food Research and Action Center are asking Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to extend those provisions through the summer to prevent disruption in students receiving meals.
Even if officials “ease up” on social distancing rules, it’s unlikely schools and other meal providers will be “encouraging 100 kids to congregate at a summer food site in a park,” said Crystal FitzSimons, the director of school and out-of-school time programs at FRAC. She added many summer camps, which typically participate in the summer meal program, are closed anyway. And school nutrition programs and nonprofit meal providers need to know if the waivers will be extended because “they can’t turn their programs on a dime.”