KASB supports KSDE school meals request

KASB President Shannon L. Kimball wrote to the U.S Department of Agriculture and senior congressional staff Monday supporting the Kansas State Department of Education’s Child Nutrition and Wellness division’s request to continue through the summer and early fall a food service practice initially implemented in March to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. 

KSDE in March requested and received a waiver to school meals “area eligibility” rules that required feeding sites to be in areas where 50 percent or more of participants are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. The waiver allowed Kansas school districts to provide meals efficiently and effectively to all students who needed them after school buildings were closed for the year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The current rule expires on June 30; KSDE and KASB are asking for it to be extended through September 30 of this year.   

The flexibility granted by USDA allowed our dedicated Kansas school nutrition professionals to pivot quickly to serve our students and families in a stressful and confusing time,” Kimball wrote. “Our employees’ continued commitment to their fellow Kansans has been a point of pride for our school districts and has highlighted the critical roles school nutrition and public education play in our communities We anticipate demand for school nutrition services will remain high over the next several weeks due to the number of Kansans who have been furloughed, laid off or lost their jobs since the waivers were granted in March. Extending the area eligibility waiver will help school districts serve families who continue to struggle with unemployment or underemployment. 

The USDA oversees school nutrition programs. The Department announced late last week it was extending until August 30 waivers that allow grab-and-go food service; permit parents to pick up meals without their children being present; and to permit schools to serve more than one meal at a time (for example, lunch plus next day’s breakfast).  

The Department did not extend the area eligibility waiver nationwide. As a result, KSDE is requesting that waiver.

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