Maine Delegation Fights to Keep School and Community Meal Sites Open to Prevent Child Hunger

Without an extension, the Maine Department of Education estimates that more than 60 percent of children currently receiving meals will lose access to this critical nutrition.

Washington, D.C.—In a bipartisan effort to prevent thousands of Maine children from losing access to meals, all four members of Maine’s Congressional Delegation wrote to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to express their full support for a request by the Maine Department of Education for a waiver extension that is critical to maintaining children’s access to meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

The current waiver allows meal sites to serve free meals to children in all Districts, rather than just those in areas where at least half of students receive free or reduced-price meals. Without an extension, this service will no longer be available to an estimated 60 percent of Maine children currently receiving these meals.  U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden asked the USDA and the Food and Nutrition Service to continue providing much-needed flexibility throughout USDA’s child nutrition programs so that a nutrition gap is not created by the absence of traditional school meals and summer activity programs.

 

“With summer quickly approaching, schools and organizations that operate summer meal sites—such as local YMCAs—are looking for answers and guidance about how to proceed, and the ability for many to operate summer meal service depends on this waiver being extended,” wrote the Maine Delegation.  “Allowing all meal sites to operate without barriers is critical to ensuring that no child goes hungry as a result of the pandemic.  The current waiver importantly allows meal sites to serve free meals to children in all areas, rather than only those in areas where at least half of students receive free or reduced-price meals.”

 

On behalf of the more than 82,000 students in Maine who qualify to participate in the National School Lunch Program, Maine’s Congressional Delegation wrote to Secretary Perdue in March, urging him to immediately use new authorities Congress has granted him to increase low-income students’ access to meals during the pandemic.

 

Click HERE to read the letter.