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Resources for State and Local Elected Officials
COVID meal distribution

This section provides resources and recommendations for policy makers responding to food insecurity during and in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food insecurity remains a critical issue as communities work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as some federal emergency supports -- like expanded Child Tax Credit payments and nationwide child nutrition program waivers – have ended or are coming to an end. This page covers actions that state and local governments can take to ensure that families continue to have access to adequate nutrition.

Leverage Federal Waivers, Resources and Programs

  • Implement and Strengthen Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) to ensure that families of students eligible for free and reduced-price meals have access to grocery benefits that help make up for missed school meals. 
    • Ensure that your state has submitted, or is working on, a plan for both school-aged kids and kids under the age of six for school year 2021-2022 as well as summer 2022.
  • Continue Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Emergency Allotments and Administrative Flexibilities, as authorized by Congress, through the end of the federal public health emergency.
  • Ensure Your State Has Requested Child Nutrition Waivers to mitigate the impact of the expiring nationwide child nutrition waivers. While the waiver options are more limited for Summer 2022 and beyond, there are flexibilities that states may continue to offer when needed in response to COVID-19. 
  • Draw Down Federal Emergency Relief Funds, like those listed below, to provide schools, local governments, and other entities have access to federal funds to support nutrition assistance. These funds may also be leveraged to address the gaps caused by the expiration of the nationwide child nutrition waivers; more details can be found in our report Leveraging COVID Relief Funds To Mitigate The Impact Of Child Nutrition Waiver Expirations and its companion brief Supporting Child Nutrition Programs With COVID Relief Funds.
    • Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF)
      • Authorized in March 2021 by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)
      • Provided $350 billion in flexible funds to states, localities, tribes, and territories to help with COVID-related challenges and expenses.
    • Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund
      • Authorized in March 2020 by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and further funded in December 2020 through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, 2021
      • Across both appropriations, provided more than $7 billion to support elementary, secondary, and higher education.
    • Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund
      • Authorized in March 2020 by the CARES Act and further funded through both CRRSA and ARPA
      • Across the three appropriations, provided nearly $200 billion in funds to support health and safety measures in schools as well as measures that improve students’ social, emotional, and mental health and meet their academic needs.
    • Coronavirus Relief Fund
      • Established by the CARES Act.
      • Appropriated $150 billion to state, local, and tribal governments to broadly cover expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
    • Public Assistance Funds
      • Available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reimburse state, local, and tribal governments for eligible costs for the purchase and distribution of food in response to COVID-19.
      • Eligible costs include those associated with purchasing, packaging, and/or delivering food commodities, fresh foods, shelf-stable food products, and prepared meals. 
      • Please see our supplemental resource—FEMA Public Assistance Grants: Leveraging Funds To Provide Meals To Vulnerable Families And Children During Covid-19—for more information about using these grants to meet nutritional needs in your community.

Opportunities for State Leadership

  • Ensure racial equity in responding to the impact of COVID-19 by gathering data about the health outcomes for racial and ethnic minority communities and allocating state resources accordingly to address disparities.
  • Promote options that will help schools to reach more low-income families, like the adoption of the Community Eligibility Provision or active promotion of the application for free or reduced-price school meals.
  • Support school and child nutrition program workers by ensuring access to personal protective equipment, supporting child care needs, and recognizing them for their incredible service to their communities.
  • Support schools and school district budgets by covering costs to enhance the school nutrition department’s capacity to continue meal service throughout the summer and next school year.
  • Provide funds to food banks or other organizations to ensure that they have the resources they need to meet ongoing demand for food services by vulnerable families, especially in light of elevated costs. 

Resources

Coronavirus
School Lunch
Summer Meals

Leveraging COVID Relief Funds to Mitigate the Impact of Child Nutrition Waiver Expirations

This resource explores how states, localities, and schools can leverage COVID relief funds like State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF), Emergency Elementary and Secondary Education Relief (ESSER) Funds, and Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Funds to mitigate the impact of nationwide child nutrition waiver expirations for Summer 2022 and School Year 2022-2023. 

Innovative Approaches & Successful Models
Policy & Legislation
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State Officials
Coronavirus
School Lunch
Summer Meals

Supporting Child Nutrition Programs with COVID Relief Funds

This resource highlights ideas for how states, localities, and schools can leverage COVID relief funds like State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF), Emergency Elementary and Secondary Education Relief (ESSER) Funds, and Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Funds to mitigate the impact of nationwide child nutrition waiver expirations for Summer 2022 and School Year 2022-2023. 

Policy Fact Sheets
Policy & Legislation
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Advocates
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State Officials