Pandemic school lunch program extended – Baltimore Sun

On Saturday, President Joe Biden signed into law the Keep Kids Fact Act, which extends partial school lunch flexibility through the next school year. The Universal Meal Program was due to expire on June 30.

The program expansion is a boost for families in Harford County who are experiencing financial hardship, said Kim Neely, pantry director at the Harford Community Action Agency.

“The financial support for school meals is crucial for so many of these families with children,” Neely said. “With rising food prices and inflation, the Keep Kids Fed Act will surely provide additional meals for children in the community and give parents some financial relief to be able to provide meals for their families.”

The Keep Kids Fed Act is a $3 billion plan to extend all pandemic school lunch waivers through the summer and increase federal reimbursements for school through the school year 2022-2023.

The extension will allow meal delivery and take-out options for students. The extra benefits came in response to the planned end of the universal meals scheme, which would have meant parents would have had to reapply to the National School Meals Scheme for free or reduced-price school meals.

The Universal Meals Program has provided free breakfast and lunch to all public school students for the past two years through federal pandemic assistance.

According to Harford County Public Schools, the cost of breakfast under the 2021-22 SSO Summer Food Service Program reimbursement was $2.61. Schools received a refund of 37 cents per paid breakfast and $1.20 per free or reduced price breakfast.

In the 2021-22 SSO Summer Food Service Program reimbursement, lunches cost $1.97, with schools being reimbursed 42 cents per meal per paid lunch and $3.73 per free or reduced lunch.

The school system was reimbursed by the federal government for summer meals (June, July and August) $180,347.33 in 2019; and through the Keep Kids Fed Act, $1,068,413.62 in 2020 and $1,548,157.60 in 2021.

The State of Maryland covers the cost of breakfast and lunch for students who qualify for discounted meals.

Harford County was also selected to participate in Maryland’s 2022 Summer Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which will provide nearly 10,000 children with additional benefits.

Summer SNAP will provide an additional $30 per additional child for the months of June, July and August, as well as an additional $10 during Winter Break in December, for a total additional benefit of $100 per child.

“The County Executive is pleased to see the federal government taking action as food prices continue to rise, and will certainly continue its commitment to the Summer SNAP program to help families in need across the county. Harford,” said Cynthia Mumby, director of government and community relations.

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Harford County Public Schools launched its summer lunch program on June 20 to ensure children have continued access to meals throughout the summer after classes end on June 16, Jillian Lader said. school system communications manager.

Currently, the school system is awaiting additional guidance from the state Department of Education as to exactly what impact this will have on the summer lunch program that already exists, said Kristen Sudzina, food supervisor and Nutrition for Harford County Public Schools.

Ryan H. Bowman