13th District Congressman Rodney Davis has helped to ensure that national school children will have meals through the remainder of the year. On Wednesday, the U.S. House overwhelmingly approved legislation to fund the government through the beginning of December. Included in the legislation was a modified version of Davis’ House Resolution 8325, the Operation Feed Our Kids Act, which was offered as a bipartisan amendment to the government funding bill. Davis’ language ensures that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has funding and authority to continue to provide child nutrition waivers through 2021 to ensure that children have access to nutritious meals amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Davis says he was glad to build the bipartisan coalition to get it done: “The national school nutrition program is one of the most successful government programs available. It feeds kids that come from homes where they might not get a nutritious meal. The problem that we’ve encountered during the pandemic is that we’re not sure those kids are getting that meal because they’re not in school. We have been operating under at the federal government under some waivers. These waivers needed to be continued so that are school districts could partner with local volunteer organizations like Meals On Wheels, for example; to get meals delivered to kids in areas like rural Greene County for instance. Those are the types of things that are bi-partisan solutions that we saw put in place with the help of a few Democrats and my Republican colleague Don Bacon of Nebraska, and we got it done.”
Davis’ bipartisan bill included a longer time frame for the USDA to provide waivers that give schools flexibility on several components of school meals program, including allowing schools to utilize the summer meals programs throughout the school year, including the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO), which provide the option to serve free meals to all children. The bill also provided and more explicit direction to USDA to continue the program. You can find the language for the government funding legislation here. The language concerning child nutrition waivers can be found on page 97.
As originally introduced, H.R. 8325, the Operation Feed Our Kids Act: Extends the USDA child nutrition waiver authority provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which will lapse on September 30th to December 31st; This authority allows all child and adult care centers to operate as non-congregate; allows USDA to waive meal pattern requirements; provides authority to issue nationwide school meal waivers that helps eliminate paperwork for states so schools can quickly adopt and utilize flexibilities; Qualified programs include: the school lunch program; school breakfast program; the child and adult care food program; and the summer food service program for children. It also directs USDA to extend at least all of the child nutrition waivers granted under FFCRA authority as of 9/11/2020 within 30 days of enactment for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year; these waivers are currently granted by USDA, and likely funded, through December 31st; and authorizes “such sums necessary” to fund the waivers. You can find the text of H.R. 8325 here.
Original co-sponsors of HR 8325 are Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Don Bacon (R-NE), and Jim Costa (D-CA). Also co-sponsoring are Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), TJ Cox (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), John B. Larson (D-CT), Kendra Horn (D-OK), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Joseph P. Kennedy, III (D-MA), Grace Meng (D-CA),and Paul Cook (R-CA).