Ripon Advance

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) on Monday proposed bipartisan legislation to extend the federal school meal waivers through the end of school year 2021, ensuring students continue to have free meals.

Rep. Davis sponsored the Operation Feed Our Kids Act, H.R. 8325, with lead cosponsor U.S. Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), which would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (UDSA) to extend the free school meals waivers beyond their Sept. 30 end date.

The bill also would permit schools the option to continue the federal summer meals programs, including the Summer Food Service Program and the Summer Seamless Option, throughout the 2020-2021 school year for all children aged 18 and younger.

“USDA’s authority to extend the school meal program waivers lapses in a matter of days. We must extend these through the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year and provide necessary funding to ensure that kids have access to consistent and much-needed healthy meals,” Rep. Davis said. “Congress must pass this legislation now, and not use our kids as political bargaining chips.”

Among the other 10 cosponsors of H.R. 8325 are U.S. Reps. Don Bacon (R-NE) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).

If enacted, H.R. 8325 also would allow USDA to waive meal pattern requirements for all qualified programs, including those for lunch and breakfast, the Child and Adult Care Food Program; and the Summer Food Service Program, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Davis’ office.

Rep. Davis also plans to introduce H.R. 8325 as a bipartisan amendment to the Continuing Resolution, which is the government funding legislation for the next fiscal year.

“I represent too many kids who don’t know where their next meal may come from,” said Rep. Davis. “The Operation Feed Our Kids Act is so desperately needed to give our schools, families, and school nutrition professionals certainty during this pandemic.”

The School Nutrition Association and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign support H.R. 8325.