“Please, sir, I want some more.” A phrase made famous by the title character of Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist may soon apply to millions of children across America when the emergency waivers for school meal flexibilities expire. Despite support from the Urban School Food Alliance, national advocacy groups, and elected officials from both sides of the political aisle, USDA refuses to use its authority to extend the emergency school meal waivers. This decision puts children’s access to a basic need – food – in jeopardy.
We have days – just days – to extend the waivers before that authority expires. It is absolutely shameful that a country with the most plentiful and safe food supply in the world is telling families that it cannot feed their children during this crisis. Congress has told USDA that it has the authority to extend these waivers through the 2020-2021 school year, but USDA continues to disagree. As this ball is tossed back and forth, we are losing critical time for schools to implement meal logistics that fit the needs of their communities and school re-opening plans. In a time of unprecedented need and economic downturn, we should use every resource available to make sure hunger isn’t added to the growing stress families are experiencing.
The calendar does not stop moving forward and the urgency is critical! We must act now to ensure that meal programs are continued and access is expanded for families and schools in the upcoming school year! Our children count on it, we must not let them down. Hunger won’t wait.
Dr. Kathryn Wilson, SNS
Urban School Food Alliance