August 31, 2020

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FRAC’S Back-to-School Updates

Check out FRAC’s COVID-19 page for back-to-school updates during COVID-19, including a tracker for school reopening guidance and the latest on child nutrition program waivers.

COVID-19: School Meal Waivers

Food Research & Action Center Commends USDA Decision to Extend Child Nutrition Waivers, But Warns More Must be Done to Mitigate Hunger, FRAC, August 31, 2020
The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) commends the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for heeding the anti-hunger, education, youth-serving communities’ and bi-partisan call to extend waivers for critical child nutrition programs that ensure the growing number of children at risk of hunger can get the nutrition they need. This extension will ensure schools and private nonprofit organizations serving as summer meal program operators have the flexibility to reach low-income children who rely on free and reduced-price school meals while schools are shuttered or have schedules that include both remote and in-classroom learning. FRAC commends the USDA for extending these waivers but we ask that the waivers be extended through June 30, 2021, to address the long-term economic fallout of COVID-19.

Agriculture Secretary Perdue Is Ending Free Meals for All Students, but Advocates and Members of Congress Say It’s Too Soon, The 74, August 25, 2020
“We are still in an economic crisis. We are still in an educational crisis. We are still in a health crisis,” said Crystal FitzSimons, the director of school and out-of-school time programs at the Food Research & Action Center. “We need to broadly meet children’s nutritional needs.”

Feed kids, for goodness’ sake, The Boston Globe, August 29, 2020
The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to retighten some of the rules that it relaxed for free and reduced-price school meals back in March, even though many kids aren’t going back into classrooms. The meal program will be tied once again to the schools that kids attend, which means some parents with children in different schools will have to visit each one to collect food. For households with working parents and those without reliable access to transit, these are barriers to accessing healthy meals for their children.

Child Nutrition Waivers Set to End as COVID Continues and Many Classes Resume Remotely, The Columbus Dispatch, August 28, 2020
Advocates for low-income families are urging Congress to continue P-EBT, which provided money to families whose children qualified for free or reduced-price meals at school. Luis Guardia, president of FRAC, said advocates are “on the same page in urging the Trump administration to ensure our nation’s children don’t experience hunger during this pandemic.”

School Leaders Fear That Stricter Lunch Program Eligibility in The Fall Could Make It Harder for Students to Eat, The Washington Post, August 25, 2020
Beverley Wheeler, director of D.C. Hunger Solutions, explains the impact of school meal waivers expiring in September. “If those flexibilities are not in place, the burden on our parents is going to be tremendous. I’m having nightmares,” said Wheeler. “We know that it’s a nutritious meal, not just another meal in your belly.”

When Students Study Remotely, Who Feeds Them?, Next City, August 27, 2020
Crystal FitzSimons, director of school nutrition program research at the Food Research & Action Center, said, “there are lots of benefits to offering free meals to all students in addition to just getting rid of the paperwork. Those benefits include easier meal access for students that may not meet exact program qualifications but still need financial assistance, reduced lunch stigma for those receiving the meals, and the simple fact that well-fed children do better in class.”

COVID-19: Disparate Impact

More than half of states are now approved for the extra $300 per week in unemployment insurance, CNBC, August 24, 2020
Thirty-four states are now approved to send workers an extra $300 in unemployment benefits, from the federal government, down from the $600 in unemployment benefits which expired in July. States have been applying for funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) over the past few weeks. So far, Arizona and Texas have started paying out the claims. Thirty-four additional states will start paying out the enhanced benefit in the coming weeks and more states are likely to be approved soon. Only South Dakota has declined the subsidy.

IRS gives low-income, disabled Americans until Sept. 30 to file for $500 payments for dependents, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 17, 2020
The Trump administration, under pressure from lawmakers and advocates, has reversed course by allowing hundreds of thousands of low-income and disabled Americans until September 30 to file for the $500 pandemic checks for dependents. The announcement came after five Pennsylvanians and a Philadelphia nonprofit filed a lawsuit last month that argued the Trump administration deprived due process rights of those beneficiaries by shutting the portal to them after the short window in late April.

Debt, Eviction and Hunger: Millions Fall Back into Crisis as Stimulus and Safety Nets Vanish, The Washington Post, August 23, 2020
“When families are on limited and stretched budgets, or when they’ve lost wages to lost jobs or reduced hours of work and then food prices go up, their dollars don’t go as far,” said Crystal FitzSimons, director of school and out-of-school time programs at the Food Research & Action Center. “Low-income families work really hard to stretch dollars as far as possible, but with the cost of food going up, it really makes it hard for families to afford the diet that they need.”

‘We’re Desperate’: Transit Cuts Felt Deepest in Low-Income Areas, The New York Times, August 15, 2020
Public transit leaders across the country have issued dire warnings to Congress, saying that the first $25 billion in aid they received in March is quickly drying up, and they need more — otherwise their systems will go into a “death spiral.” In return, though, Congress has shown little sign that another stimulus package will pass soon, or even include any of the $32 billion more in assistance that transit experts say is needed to prevent systems from making more severe cuts to service that could stall the nation’s economic recovery. But as service cuts to the United States’ bus, rail, and subway systems start to happen, experts say it is the nation’s low-income residents, people of color, and essential workers bearing the brunt.

COVID-19: Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT)

Illinois Children Miss out on School Meals, WGEM-TV, August 27, 2020
According to Crystal FitzSimons: “When schools closed last spring, many students lost access to meals. Congress responded by providing P-EBT program which provides an EBT card for families to purchase meals. We are doing a lot of work to make sure families who are eligible for this program are able to apply in Illinois and get those benefits.”

COVID-19: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

SNAP in Maryland, Living in Baltimore, August 27, 2020
According to Michael J. Wilson, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, “As of June this year, there are more than 844,000 people in the state of Maryland on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). And the numbers keep going up.”

About Us

FRAC is the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States. Visit our website to learn more.

Contact Us

Food Research & Action Center
1200 18th Street, NW Suite 400
Washington, District of Columbia 20036
(202) 986-2200