The Department of Agriculture Tuesday issued flexibilities to allow school meal programs and childcare services return to serving healthy meals in fall 2021. Several meal service flexibilities that enable social distancing are now extended through June 30, 2022. A recent study from Tufts University found that in 2018, schools were the single healthiest source of food consumed across a sample of children and adults.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “USDA will remain relentless in ensuring our nation’s children get the critical nutrition they need.” Vilsack says states and districts wanted waivers extended to plan for a safe reopening in the fall. Schools nationwide are allowed to serve meals through USDA’s National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option, which is typically only available during the summer. This option maintains the nutrition standards of the standard school meal while allowing schools to serve free meals to all children. In addition, schools that choose this option will receive higher-than-normal meal reimbursements.