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

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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. 

Overview

The waiver flexibilities that have allowed schools and other child nutrition programs to safely provide meals and ensure access to needed nutrition throughout the pandemic are currently set to expire on June 30, 2022. Congress has not renewed the US Department of Agriculture’s authority to issue or extend nationwide waivers, so at this time, summer meals program s are generally expected to return to pre-pandemic rules this summer, and schools will need to follow usual program rules for School Year 2022-2023. This will leave program operators with less flexibility and fewer resources even as they continue to face supply chain disruptions, rising costs, and staffing challenges. It will also reduce kids’ access to meals, especially in rural and hard-to-reach communities. According to an internal analysis, the loss of waivers could translate to 95 million fewer meals being served in summer 2022. And without waivers, schools may be forced to use general funds to make up for losses experienced by the school nutrition dep artment, especially as families and schools navigate the transition back to applications and payments. While the state agency administering the child nutrition programs may be able to apply for some individual flexibilities, these are unlikely to fully replace the expiring nationwide waivers.

This version replaces a resource on SLFRF, ESSER and GEER that was last updated in June 2021.

For a two-page overview of this resource, see https://bestpractices.nokidhungry.org/resource/supporting-child-nutrition-programs-covid-relief-funds.