WASHINGTON — Last week, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will extend several flexibilities through as late as Dec. 31. The flexibilities allow summer meal program operators to continue serving free meals to all children into the fall months. This unprecedented move will help ensure – no matter what the situation is on-the-ground – children have access to nutritious food as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA has been and continues to be committed to using the Congressionally appropriated funding that has been made available.

Here is what some officials from throughout the nation said about the USDA’s unprecedented move:

• Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “I’m grateful to Secretary Perdue and the entire Trump administration for helping protect Kentucky’s children during this pandemic. Young people should focus on learning and staying safe during these uncertain times, not on where they’ll find their next meal. With the additional flexibility and increased access to federally-supported food programs, Kentucky’s children can learn and thrive whether they are in the classroom or learning from home.”

 •School Nutrition Association (SNA) President Reggie Ross, SNS: “These waivers ensure schools can continue to safely meet students’ nutritional needs this fall. In the midst of a pandemic, no family should have to worry about their child missing out on healthy school breakfast or lunch. School meal programs face unprecedented challenges and need the assurance that these critical waivers will be available through the entire school year. SNA will continue working with USDA and Congress to further extend these waivers to support school meal programs and the students we serve.”

•Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles: “I am grateful to Secretary Perdue for extending flexibilities to schools and other organizations to serve meals to children during the coronavirus pandemic.”

•Bracken County Schools Superintendent Jeff Aulick: “I am very pleased to hear that the meal program has been extended through the end of the year. Our staff has served over 75,000 meals since March 13, 2020, and worked hard to meet the needs of the children within Bracken County.”

 •Fleming County Schools Superintendent Brian Creasman said: “The USDA’s Waiver will go a long way to ensuring that students are fed as we reopen schools.” 

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