Ernst Works to Ensure Iowa’s Children Get Access to Nutritious Meals

The Iowa senator is calling on USDA to utilize flexibilities within the child nutrition waiver program as school districts work to finalize their plans for the upcoming school year.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, joined her colleagues to urge United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to utilize existing child nutrition waiver program flexibilities for the 2020-2021 school year.
“As Iowa families and schools are finalizing plans for the year, it’s imperative that our students have access to healthy meals,” said Senator Ernst. “Providing children with adequate nutrition is key for supporting their well-being and academic success, regardless of whether they are completing their coursework virtually or in a classroom setting. I’m calling on the USDA to continue to grant our schools flexibility to ensure Iowa’s children are receiving the meals they depend on.”
In the continued fight against COVID-19, schools and families are working to finalize their plans for the upcoming year – including the method for administering meals to students – which remains subject to change. In their letter, Ernst and her colleagues call on the USDA to leverage the flexibilities needed to enable school food authorities and non-school sponsoring organizations to continue offering meals through the department’s child nutrition programs. 
Ernst and her colleagues also request that the USDA utilize program flexibilities, grants, or reimbursements that assist school food authorities with preparing and serving meals in a manner consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. 
Senator Ernst has continued her efforts to ensure Iowa’s children and families have access to nutritious meals through her work as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. She has also called for a temporary increase in Supplemental Assistance and Nutrition Program benefits to help Iowa families weather the pandemic.
Ernst has supported the reauthorization of child nutrition programs, including the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016, that would scale back burdensome red tape for school lunches, return broad program oversight to local and state authorities, and safeguard taxpayer dollars.