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
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.