URGENT: Tell Congress to Support Child Nutrition Programs in Upcoming Legislation

by Fatima Jawaid Marty

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of the child nutrition programs in supporting Oregon’s communities. School meals have been crucial to supporting families in order to mitigate the economic, educational, and health impacts of the pandemic.

However, this pandemic is not over and the need for free school meals is still strong but the child nutrition waivers that have allowed for these flexibilities were not included in the $1.5 trillion spending package passed by the Senate last month. We need you to contact your Senators and ask them to continue to make school meals a priority. For more information, see below or take action here!


Over the last two years, schools have worked tirelessly to provide free school meals for students as schools closed, moved to distance learning, and reopened again. The pandemic is not over, and the need for flexibility to provide meals will continue into the summer and the following school year. However, the child nutrition waivers that have allowed for these meals were not included in the $1.5 trillion spending bill passed by the Senate last month.

This means free school meals for all, as well as other critical flexibilities  will expire on June 30th. It’s time to take action – the next pandemic relief legislation passed by Congress must ensure children can access the healthy food they need through child nutrition programs, including at school and during the summer. Below are two actions that you can take:


1. Support Kids Not Red Tape Act of 2022

Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Deb Stabenow (D-MI) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), introduced a bipartisan bill, Support Kids Not Red Tape Act, to address the urgent need to extend school and summer meals waivers through the summer of 2023.  Some key components of the bill include:

  • Extends USDA’s authority to issue child nutrition program waivers through September 30, 2023.

  • Requires schools and other child nutrition program operators to return to operations without waivers by October 1, 2023.

  • Directs the USDA to provide guidance and technical assistance to states on transitioning to operations without waivers by September 30, 2022.

Your senators need to hear from you now! Senator Wyden and Senator Merkley have co-sponsored this bill. Please thank them for recognizing the importance of feeding our school communities, and encourage them to continue prioritizing the extension of these crucial waivers.


You can take action here.


2. Urge Your Members of Congress to Swiftly Invest in our Nation’s Children in Upcoming Legislation

It is important to advocate with all Members of Congress not just around Child Nutrition Waivers, but supporting and expanding other key child nutrition programs.  The following three provisions designed to support economic recovery and provide pandemic relief must be included in the next piece of legislation:

  • Ensure children continue to have access to healthy meals by extending child nutrition waivers into 2023

  • Allow more schools to offer free school meals through the expansion of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)

  • Recognize hunger doesn’t take a vacation during the summer, and support Summer EBT to provide families with the resources needed to replace the free or reduced-price school meals they rely on during the school year


You can take action here.