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Keep Kids Fed Act passes House and Senate

The final bill increases meal reimbursements and extends some waivers, however, it will no longer provide free meals to students who qualify for reduced-price ones.
Lunch trays on a table.
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The Keep Kids Fed Act has passed the House and Senate and now heads to President Biden’s desk.

The bill will provide flexibility and financial assistance to school nutrition programs this upcoming school year as they continue to deal with rising costs, procurement challenges, labor shortages and more.

It includes increasing meal reimbursements for every lunch by 40 cents and every school breakfast by 15 cents, starting July 1. It also extends waivers for 2022 summer meal programs as well as no-cost waivers, including those for schools who can’t meet nutrition standards as a result of procurement issues.

A provision in the original bill text that allowed students who qualify for reduced-price meals to receive meals at no charge, however, was removed during the Senate’s consideration of the bill.

The Keep Kids Fed Act offers a lifeline for school nutrition programs as the pandemic-era nutrition waivers were set to expire later this month. The waivers allowed schools to provide meals to all students at no cost, raised the meal reimbursement rate and more.

The School Nutrition Association (SNA) has welcomed the bill’s passage but shared its frustration that the provision to offer free meals to students who qualify for reduced-price meals was removed from the original bill.

“We are extremely disappointed Senate leaders were forced to strike a key provision to eliminate the reduced-price meal co-pay for eligible families, struggling with rising food and gas costs,” said SNA President Beth Wallace in a statement. “Throughout the pandemic, free school meals have ensured students are nourished and ready to learn. The loss of free school meals puts too many students at risk of going hungry."  

[Ed. Note: The Keep Kids Fed Act was signed into law by President Biden on June 25.]

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