Davis’ Bipartisan School Meals Bill Included in House-Passed Government Funding Legislation
Operation Feed Our Kids Act provides USDA authority, direction and funding to extend child nutrition program waivers through 2021 to ensure kids have access to healthy food amid the pandemic.
Yesterday, 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 U.S. Representative Rodney Davis’ (R-Ill.) legislation H.R. 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.
“I’d like to thank Congressional leaders for their willingness to compromise and include language from our bipartisan ‘Operation Feed Our Kids’ Act in the must-pass government funding legislation,” said Rep. Davis. “With this language, we now give our schools, families, and school nutrition professionals certainty throughout the upcoming school year to ensure kids can continue to get the meals they’re used to during a normal school year. I look forward to working with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to implement the extension of these waivers, and I urge the Senate to quickly pass this government funding bill. Thank you to our bipartisan group of co-sponsors and the advocates of this legislation.”
"School nutrition professionals have been on the frontlines in school cafeterias, at curbside meal pick-up sites and even delivering school meals to ensure students receive the nourishment they need. The waiver authority and funding in this legislation will protect hungry children from losing access to healthy school meals as their families and communities continue to manage impacts of the pandemic,” said School Nutrition Association President Reggie Ross, SNS. “School Nutrition Association greatly appreciates Rep. Davis and the co-sponsors' commitment to the well-being of our students and the school nutrition programs they depend on. We are hopeful for prompt Senate action."
“Even amidst a health and economic crisis, childhood hunger is solvable,” says Lisa Davis, Senior Vice President of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. “The bipartisan House budget deal removes the last roadblocks to USDA extending critical child nutrition waivers through the end of the academic year, giving schools and community organizations the ability to continue adapting meal programs to ensure the unprecedented number of kids in need are fed during this pandemic. We urge the Senate to quickly pass this legislation and for Secretary Perdue to extend waivers through the end of the 2021 school year.”
"School meals have been the best safety net for eliminating food insecurity and childhood hunger since 1946. School nutrition professionals are in an excellent position to use the safest and most plentiful food supply in the world to ensure children across the country, in every community and every neighborhood can access healthy, life sustaining meals. This bill not only gives schools the resources to continue this heroic work, it also sends a clear message that children's basic need for food will not be lost in the stress of this pandemic. The Urban School Food Alliance appreciates Congressman Davis's and all the cosigner's vision to eliminate food insecurity in the lives of our nation's children,” said Dr. Katie Wilson, Executive Director of the Urban School Food Alliance.
Rep. Davis spoke in support of the government funding legislation and the inclusion of Operation Feed Our Kids Act language yesterday on the House floor. You can watch his remarks here. Davis also submitted a statement for the Congressional Record regarding the program. You can find that statement here.
Rep. 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:
You can find the text of H.R. 8325 here.
Original co-sponsors of H.R. 8325 are Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Don Bacon (R-NE), and Jim Costa (D-CA). Also co-sponsoring are Reps. 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).