CMS Board Chair reacts to new law expanding summer meals for school children


 Lawmakers just sealed a deal that will keep students fed despite the end of previous federal measures that kept school lunches free for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Keep Kids Fed Act was signed into law by President Biden last Friday and it is what the name says it is: A law to make sure kids stay fed even though free lunches are ending.

“The President and Congress have made sure school and summer meal programs get much-needed support to deal with ongoing food service issues and keep kids fed,” said Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow who is also the chairwoman of the U.S. Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

Here in North Carolina, Sen. Burr, Sen. Tillis, Rep. Adams, and Rep. Foxx all supported the Act.

“They came through for us and we’re really relieved and grateful,” said Elyse Dashew, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools BOE Chair.

The Act is helping school districts nationwide maintain flexibility for meal programs, weather supply chain issues, and fight high food costs.

  • Extending summer meal programs through August. This will make it easier to feed all students during the summer months, particularly those in rural areas, through grab-and-go meals
  • Extending school meal program administrative and paperwork flexibilities through the 2022-2023 school year. This will help schools streamline their meal operations and continue operating despite supply chain disruptions.
  • The Act is also increasing the reimbursement rate for school lunch and school breakfast to help offset the increased cost of food and operating expenses for schools. Schools will receive an additional 40 cents more for each lunch and 15 cents more for each breakfast served.
  • Helping daycares and home providers in the Child and Adult Care Food Program offset increased costs by providing an additional 10 cents per meal and streamlining reimbursement rates.

Families will now have to go back to sign their children up for free and reduced lunch programs. Breakfast is still free.

“If you think that there’s any chance that your kids might qualify for free and reduced lunch, get those forms and fill out those forms,” Dashew said.

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