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Letter to The Hon. Sonny Perdue Secretary U.S. Department of Agriculture - Congressman Cleaver Calls on Usda to Provide More Flexibility, Support to Student Nutrition Programs


By: John Yarmuth, Frederica Wilson, Susan Wild, Jennifer Wexton, Peter Welch, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Filemon Vela, Jr., Juan Vargas, Lauren Underwood, David Trone, Lori Trahan, Rashida Tlaib, Dina Titus, Bennie Thompson, Mark Takano, Haley Stevens, Abigail Spanberger, Darren Soto, Adam Smith, Donna Shalala, José Serrano, Bobby Scott, David Scott, Kim Schrier, Jan Schakowsky, Mary Scanlon, Linda Sánchez, Tim Ryan, Bobby Rush, Dutch Ruppersberger, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Harley Rouda, Jamie Raskin, David Price, Ayanna Pressley, Mark Pocan, Stacey Plaskett, Ed Perlmutter, Chris Pappas, Jimmy Panetta, Frank Pallone, Jr., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Tom O'Halleran, Eleanor Norton, Grace Napolitano, Jerry Nadler, Seth Moulton, Joe Morelle, Gwen Moore, Jim McGovern, Betty McCollum, Doris Matsui, Sean Maloney, Carolyn Maloney, Stephen Lynch, Alan Lowenthal, Mike Levin, Andy Levin, Susie Lee, Barbara Lee, Al Lawson, Jr., John Larson, Rick Larsen, Ann Kuster, Ann Kirkpatrick, Ron Kind, Andy Kim, Ro Khanna, Joe Kennedy III, Marcia Kaptur, Hank Johnson, Jr., Eddie Johnson, Pramila Jayapal, Jared Huffman, Jahana Hayes, Alcee Hastings, Sr., Raul Grijalva, Jimmy Gomez, Sylvia Garcia, Jesus Garcia, John Garamendi, Ruben Gallego, Marcia Fudge, Lois Frankel, Bill Foster, Adriano Espaillat, Anna Eshoo, Veronica Escobar, Debbie Dingell, Mark DeSaulnier, Rosa DeLauro, Peter DeFazio, Madeleine Dean, Susan Davis, Angie Craig, T. J. Cox, Jim Costa, Jim Cooper, Steve Cohen, Yvette Clarke, David Cicilline, Judy Chu, Joaquin Castro, André Carson, Tony Cárdenas, Salud Carbajal, Cheri Bustos, Julia Brownley, Brendan Boyle, Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Sanford Bishop, Jr., Karen Bass, Cindy Axne, Alma Adams, Chellie Pingree, Ilhan Omar, Emanuel Cleaver II
Date: Aug. 7, 2020
Location: Chicago, IL

Dear Secretary Perdue:

The undersigned members of the House of Representatives urge the Department of Agriculture
(Department) to act swiftly to ensure children have access to nutritious food during these
difficult economic times. Specifically, we urge the Department to renew waivers to enable the
implementation of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option
(SSO) and to waive the Area Eligibility Requirement during the entirety of school year 2020-
As you know, Congress authorized the use of these waivers in the Families First Coronavirus
Response Act.1 Schools and non-profit partners across the country have utilized these waivers to
continue providing meals to children during the COVID-19 pandemic. The flexibility to operate
SFSP and SSO is essential for schools to continue serving children when school buildings are not
accessible, which will continue to be the case in many parts of the country during the coming
school year. These waivers also provide critical administrative relief for already over-burdened
school staff and facilitate the implementation of health and safety measures by limiting the
contact required during meal service.
Simply put, without these flexibilities, some schools will be unable to continue providing meals
for students next year.
In March and April 2020, approximately one in four adults ages 18-64 with children younger
than 19 reported food insecurity in their household during the previous month.2 Rates of food
insecurity are significantly higher in Black households, with approximately 37 percent of Black
households with children reporting food insecurity in March and April 2020 compared
to approximately 18 percent of white households.3
It is unconscionable that the Department
would fail to utilize all of its available authority to ensure that children can continue to receive
the nutritious meals they need to learn next year.
We therefore urge your swift action to extend these waivers in the school meal programs. Please
contact Maria Martirosyan at Maria.Martirosyan@mail.house.gov with any questions. Thank
you for your attention this urgent matter, and we look forward to your response.