Senators revive the school luncheon debate with a bill to extend universal free meals

Morkowski (R. Alaska) and fellow Republican senator. Susan Collins Maine, on the other hand, is breaking their party leadership in support of the new bill, dubbed the Support Kids Not Red Tape – a reflection of the growing outrage that the failure to extend the waiver of school meals has created in both red and blue countries.

“Following the widespread disruption caused by COVID, life is beginning to feel more ‘normal’ for some. However, many Alaska residents are still working to overcome the economic dropout from the epidemic and many schools continue to struggle with supply shortages and higher prices,” Morkowski said in a statement. . “That’s why I’m happy to join Senator Stevenov and my Senate colleagues in pushing to allow the USDA to expand vital support for the school’s nutrition programs and prevent barriers that could prevent students from getting a healthy meal.”

McConnell’s office declined to comment on the record, but the Assistant Democratic Leadership leader said that, more than two years into the epidemic, there is no longer a need to expand access to free school meals or provide greater flexibility in managing nutrition programs. The aide blamed the Biden administration for not including the extension of the waiver in the official application for the Covid Expenditure Act and noted that President Joe Biden’s budget request for fiscal year 2023 also did not include the request.

Agriculture Minister Tom Wilsk said he had directly asked House and Senate heads to extend the waiver months earlier, and was told schools would be given the flexibility for another year. The waiver of the plague has been extended several times in the past without controversy.

An OMB official said in a statement that “the administration has repeatedly urged lawmakers to extend this vital plan to millions of children, and we remain deeply disappointed that Congress failed to act in time.

Leading Democrats in the House and Senate have told POLITICO that they are trying to attach the extension to Cubid’s package of expenses that is currently being negotiated – a very high order given the $ 11 billion price tag of the policy, which would roughly double the size of Covid’s two bargaining parties. If that does not work, Stebnov said she plans to raise the measure as a correction when the Senate considers Cubid’s bill, which could happen in the coming weeks.

The move is a last-ditch effort to extend the waiver first issued at the start of the epidemic, which not only allowed schools to feed an additional 10 million children, but also protected schools with supply chains and manpower problems from meeting compliance with federal requirements. The strict rules of the meal plan. Democrats want to force Republicans to vote on the issue and risk a political blow because of opposition to easier access to meals for vulnerable children.

Stevenov said she welcomes the opportunity for top Republicans to publicly share their views on school meals, a service that both sides generally support.

“They can show that they are supportive and support our efforts to put it in the Covid package,” Stabenow said. “We are looking at up to 30 million children who will see their meals disrupted.”

Free school meals were previously available to children from low-income households; The plague marked the first time the meals were free for all students, regardless of income. School leaders are now generally backing up to maintain universal free access, at least for another year, as it requires much less paperwork due to a shortage of manpower. Plus they get more federal money for a meal.

It is still unclear how much expansion there is for democratic leadership, in large print. The leaders of the two parties in both chambers agreed earlier this month to advance a $ 1.5 trillion spending package without extending the waiver. The issue is absent from the democratic discussion points. But in addition to Morkowski and Collins, Stevenov – the number four Democrat in the Senate – has since won support for her amendment proposal from every single Democrat in the Senate, including center-right senses. Joe Manchin West Virginia and Kirsten Cinema Of Arizona, and self-employed Angus King Of Maine and Bernie Sanders Of Vermont. its. Patty Marie (D-Wash.), Chairman of the Senate Relief Committee, which is negotiating the Cubid Assistance Bill, is also sponsoring.

Local leaders and nutritionists in schools are unequivocally warning that the lack of extension is going to be a disaster for students.

“There will be a dramatic loss in access to summer meals, starting in May,” said Diane Pratt-Havener, a spokeswoman for the School Nutrition Association, who noted that large sections of the country’s schools are starting their summer holidays in two months.

Heidi Saip, superintendent of the Umatilla County School District in northeastern Oregon, said she was particularly concerned about how she would manage without an exemption allowing schools to get reimbursement for meals that did not include all the necessary nutrients. This flexibility is still very much needed, Saip said, because it routinely orders food that does not show up because of supply chain constraints.

“We will have a milk truck that arrives without the full order,” Saip said. “It’s not that they’re doing something wrong – they do not have the product.”

If this happens after the waiver expires on June 30, Saip will have to choose between serving her students a meal that does not meet the requirements – and is not eligible for a full refund – or not serving the meal at all.

“We can not afford to bear this loss, but we will never leave a child hungry,” Saip said.

School officials and nutrition principals are not alone in their struggle to persuade Congress to regain flexibility. Members of the new mayoral alliance set up to end childhood hunger are also pressuring lawmakers to extend the waiver for another year. The bipartisan group represents nearly 100 mayors from large and medium-sized cities in 34 states and the District of Columbia.

John Giles, the Republican mayor of Mesa, Ariz, and vice president of the Alliance, said the plague has not ended for the cities and towns of America, and any member of Congress who insists otherwise is arrogant.

“Mayors are doing things, and that’s what we’re done,” Giles said. “The reason for feeding children is too important to let her be a victim of bureaucratic inability.”

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