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June 29, 2022 - 7:26pm

Keep Kids Fed Act aims to do just that: BCSD considers options

posted by Joanne Beck in news, City Schools, Keep Kids Fed, notify.

Now that graduation is officially over, Batavia City School District is assessing its current summer meals program to potentially provide children with remote meals in July and August, Business Administrator Scott Rozanski says.

The review stems from an announcement this week about the Keep Kids Fed Act that funds free meals for children throughout the summer. That bill was signed into law and extends child nutrition waivers for schools, daycares, nonprofits and other meal providers, according to a press release from Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer.

“No child should ever go hungry, and now schools will have the funding and flexibility needed to ensure kids stay healthy and fed this summer ... this bill gives our schools the support they need to continue to provide free nutritious meals and the flexibility they need to operate amidst the ongoing supply chain challenges,” Schumer said. “Summer is often the time of year when food insecurity is highest for children and this support comes just in the nick of time.”

Batavia’s district already has summer extended programs at Batavia High School-BOCES for breakfast, and at Batavia Middle School, Jackson Primary and John Kennedy Intermediate for breakfast and lunch, Rozanski said in response to questions from The Batavian.

Beginning this week (Monday, July 27) through Sept. 1, breakfast and lunch is also being provided to YMCA’s youth program Monday through Friday, and also Monday through Friday for the city’s Parks and Recreation program from July 5 through Aug. 12.

“Given the late announcement, we are in the process of determining how we can offer this important program for those children that are not involved in the programs previously listed,” Rozanski said. “Tentatively, we are looking at offering one to two options for remote meals from July 5 through Aug. 31, 2022.

“We first need to determine if we have sufficient personnel to staff either of these two options and, if not, what adjustments can we make to our current summer programs to be able to accommodate this program,” he said. “We are also waiting for the approval from NYS Child Nutrition (CN).”

District officials are hoping to receive definite word by Friday, he said. If the district receives approval for the additional option(s), it plans to publicly announce that to district residents, he said.

During the pandemic, Congress authorized the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to waive various school meal program requirements for school districts and increase reimbursement rates so that schools and meal program operators could continue to feed children. This allowed school districts across New York to make sure that students got meals all year long, including during the summer. 

These child nutrition waivers were set to expire Thursday, June 30. A recent  USDA survey showed that 90 percent of school districts food programs are depending on these waivers to offer free meals, with 92 percent experiencing supply chain issues and a quarter experiencing staffing challenges for their nutrition programs, according to the press release.

The fully paid-for Keep Kids Fed Act has been signed into law by President Biden.

For the full release, go HERE

Photo of a family celebrating during this past Saturday's BHS graduation ceremony at Van Detta Stadium in Batavia. Photo by Stephen Ognibene.

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