WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement after U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the department will not extend expiring waivers which have allowed schools to continue providing access to free meals to students throughout the pandemic.

“As school districts make difficult decisions about how to safely reopen schools this fall, it’s crucial that regardless of whether students are physically in the classroom, families know they can count on having access to school meal programs.

“I have repeatedly called on the Administration to extend the waivers put in place over the last six months to provide certainty to families throughout this next school year. These waivers, which expire at the end of this month, have removed bureaucratic barriers to accessing meals, and allow school districts to provide meals to all students. This Administration, in failing to extend the waivers, has neglected students and families at a time of unprecedented need.

“This inexplicable decision makes it even harder for families to access vital food assistance programs amidst a pandemic that has increased food insecurity for children and families. Secretary Perdue must extend these emergency waivers through the rest of the school year to ensure America’s children do not go hungry.”