White House expands free school lunch program in Alabama
Federal meal waivers were extended five days before their expected deadline yesterday. Alabama school kids will still be able to get free meals even though class is out for the summer. President Biden just signed the Keep Kids Fed Act on Saturday. The act extends free meal waivers to youngsters until the regular program picks up in the fall. Danielle Turk is with the Alabama Department of Education. She says meal waivers are important because it sets children up for success regardless of their financial status.
“We can be rest assured that every child is going to have two meals, a breakfast and a lunch, while they’re at school regardless of what their home situation might be,” said Turk. “I was a public school teacher for 19 years before I started this position. A lot of children in Alabama come to school with that being the only meal they receive.”
The expansion of the free school lunch program was paved by a deal between Democratic and Republican committee leaders. Democratic Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow and ranking Republican member John Boozman teamed with Democratic House Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. Scott and ranking GOP member Virginia Foxx announced the compromise to provide higher lunch and breakfast per meal reimbursements for the coming school year. Danielle Turk says the plan will help kids with free meals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of our end child hunger advocates have been trying to push for universal meals for all children. Covid came and that’s what happened,” said Turk. “We saw success. We saw children who didn’t come to school with any money to buy a meal were able to receive a meal. In all aspects of just educating a child, providing a meal is a huge key factor.”
Meal providers will be reimbursed 40 additional cents for lunches and 15 for breakfasts. The state department anticipates instruction from the Department of Agriculture in the next couple of weeks.