Democrats Push to Extend Universal School Meals

Democrats in both chambers of Congress are urging House and Senate leadership to help extend a school lunch waiver program that’s kept millions of children from going hungry over the past two years.

In a letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last Friday, a group of nine Democrats led by Rep. Katie Porter (D-California) asked the Democratic leader to schedule a vote to extend waivers for school meals for this week, ahead of the program’s scheduled expiration date on June 30.

“With higher food costs forcing families to stretch their budgets, free school meals can bring down costs for families by hundreds of dollars each month,” the lawmakers wrote. “The end of this program will cause immediate hardship for many families who will be forced to purchase full-price meals at school or pay for food at inflated prices from local grocery stores.”

“No child should go hungry in our country, especially in our schools,” the Democrats added.

Also available Friday 33 senators sentA letter was sent to leaders asking them for the inclusion of the universal school meal program into upcoming bills on food prices and pandemic relief. It also asked them to create a nationwide program that allows families with children to get additional electronic benefit transfers (EBT) cards during the summer. The letter’s signatories included Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).

The universal meal programme, which was initiated in March 2020 to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in response, allows for a greater variety of meals. about 10 million kids to access free meals — including breakfast, lunch and dinner, in some places — from their schools and local groups through the academic year and when school is out for the summer.

Children from families with any financial backgroundYou could access the program without undergoing a financial verification process burdened school nutrition programsThe program excluded families whose incomes were below the school meal program’s salary limit but who are still struggling to provide food for their family. The program also helped to stave off the stigmaChildren who were previously eligible for free meals prior to the pandemic.

Advocates for school meal programs say thatThe program is particularly important as inflation continues to rise across the board and groceries are up 12 percentAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is an increase of 5% from last year.

Despite warnings that millions of students could go hungry because of the program’s expiration, Congress didn’t include funding for extending the program in a spending package earlier this year — thanks in part to opposition byAccording to Democrats, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R–Kentucky) is the source. McConnell has not commented publicly on the program but an aide to the GOP leadership said. PoliticoAfter two years of pandemics, the program is no more necessary.

However, because of conservative opposition to programs such as the expanded child tax credit, many children may still be at risk or already experience food insecurity. This is especially true when wages stagnate. or effectively decrease. After the December 2021 expiration of the expanded tax credit, Child poverty ratesIncreased by 41 percent Data shows that millions ofLow-income families still depend on school meals.