Boozman Praises USDA for Extending Free School Meals Through End of 2020

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR)—a senior member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry—praised U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s decision to allow summer meal program operators to continue serving free meals to all children through the remainder of the year.

Secretary Perdue’s announcement paves the way for an extension of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) waivers for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) through the end of 2020, or until available funding runs out.

“I applaud Secretary Perdue for taking action to ensure students have access to healthy, nutritious meals through USDA’s child nutrition programs this school year. The coronavirus has created many challenges and anxieties for Arkansas families that have not subsided. This action will provide welcome relief for parents as their children return to school,” Boozman said.

Specifically, USDA’s actions will allow:

•           SFSP and SSO meals to be served in all areas and at no cost;

•           Meals to be served outside of the typically-required group settings and meal times;

•           Meal pattern requirements to be waived as necessary; and

•           Parents and guardians to pick-up meals for their children.

Boozman and his colleagues urged USDA to continue providing these flexibilities to schools and sponsoring organizations for school meals and child nutrition in a recent letter to Secretary Perdue, led by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS).

Boozman is currently continuing his August tradition of traveling the state on his annual agriculture tour in an effort to highlight the industry’s importance in Arkansas.

On Thursday, he will make a hunger relief-focused stop at the Arkansas Food Bank in Little Rock to learn about its efforts to combat hunger during the COVID-19 public health crisis.