Mar 10, 2021 - Economy & Business

USDA says kids can get free meals through summer

Children eating lunch at Woodland Elementary School in Milford, Massachusetts, in September 2021.
Children eating lunch at Woodland Elementary School in Milford, Massachusetts, in September 2021. Photo: Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Children nationwide will be able to receive free meals when schools break for the summer after the U.S. Department of Agriculture extended several waivers on Tuesday because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The department said as many as 12 million children are currently living in households where they may not have enough to eat, meaning they may rely on meals from school.

What they're saying: “We will do everything we can to make sure children get access to healthy, nutritious meals regardless of their families’ financial circumstances,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

  • “Our child nutrition professionals are doing a heroic job ensuring kids across the country have proper nutrition throughout this public health emergency, often times with limited resources."

How it works: The department said the waivers allow meals to be served at no cost and beyond traditional group settings and mealtimes.

  • Parents and guardians are also permitted to pick up multiple days worth of food at once in some districts and without their child's presence.

Go deeper: The pandemic could be worsening childhood obesity

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