USDA Extends School Meal Program Flexibilities Following Bipartisan Push Led by Senator Collins

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) decision this week to extend child nutrition program flexibilities, including access to free meals, through the end of December, regardless of whether in-school learning is available. Senator Collins called for this extension earlier this month.


“I applaud the USDA’s decision to extend several critical waivers through the end of December for students in Maine and throughout the country,” said Senator Collins.  “This important extension will ensure children continue to have access to free meals, regardless of whether they are learning in the classroom or virtually.” 


Last month, Senator Collins, along with 19 of her colleagues, sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue urging him to continue utilizing existing flexibilities that have allowed students to access much needed school meals throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  Additionally, Senators Collins and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) led a letter that was signed by 34 of their colleagues in urging the USDA to continue these flexibilities throughout the 2020-2021 school year.


In March, all four members of Maine’s Congressional Delegation wrote USDA in support of providing flexibility around eligibility for free meals that was critical to maintaining children’s access to nutritious foods when schools closed last spring.  In July, the Delegation wrote USDA Secretary Perdue again to express their full support for a request by the Maine Department of Education for a waiver extension, which was successfully extended through the end of the summer.