U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined 51 of her colleagues to introduce the bipartisan Support Kids Not Red Tape Act. The bill would extend USDA pandemic school meal waivers that have helped students access much-needed meals throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This bill would extend school meal waivers to September 2023 as they are currently set to expire on June 30, 2022. These flexibilities limit burdensome paperwork requirements and provide schools with additional support to deal with rising costs and supply chain issues, allowing them to continue to provide meals to students throughout the school year and over the summer.
“Thousands of children across New York State rely on school meals – for many, it’s their only reliable source of food each day. As food costs continue to skyrocket and families struggle to put food on the table, we can’t let our children go hungry,” said Senator Gillibrand. “That’s why I’m proud to introduce this critical legislation. The Support Kids Not Red Tape Act will empower local schools to tailor their meal programs to the needs of their communities and help ensure that low-income kids always know where their next meal is coming from.”
Senator Gillibrand has led the fight against child hunger since the beginning of the pandemic. In 2020, following her push, USDA approved New York State’s Pandemic-EBT program, which provides nutritional resources to families that lost access to free or reduced-price school meals. She also urged USDA to extend flexibilities for school meal programs so that students could access meals regardless of school opening status. Last year, Gillibrand pushed to permanently implement a universal school meals program that would provide free school meals to all students. Finally, Senator Gillibrand introduced the bipartisan Summer Meals Act, which would relax the Summer Food Service Program eligibility threshold, reduce red tape for programs that provide meals during both the school year and the summer, and improve access to nutrition in rural, underserved, and hard-to-reach areas.
The Support Kids Not Red Tape Act was introduced by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) was also co-sponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tina Smith (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tom Carper (D-DE), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Angus King (I-ME), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).
The legislation has been endorsed by the Mayors Alliance to End Childhood Hunger as well as nearly 2,000 anti-hunger, nutrition, education, children’s, school, preschool, and out of school providers, faith groups and industry groups.
The full text of the legislation is available here.