The U.S. Department of Agriculture has officially extended its summer meal waivers for the entire 2020-21 school year. 

The USDA waivers, which will now be in place through June 30, 2021, allow schools to waive meal pattern requirements and serve meals to all children under 18 at no charge. The waivers also enable meals to be served outside of the typically required group settings and meal times, and permit parents and guardians to pick up meals for their children. 

The previous extension of these waivers was originally set to expire at the end of December. Earlier this month, however, Congress passed a continuing resolution bill that granted authority and funding for further extensions, which was later signed into law.

The School Nutrition Association has been advocating for the waiver extensions, saying that they are vital for students and their families who may be struggling with food insecurity due to COVID-19.  

“These waiver extensions are great news for America’s students and the school nutrition professionals working so hard to support them throughout this pandemic," School Nutrition Association President Reggie Ross said in a statement. “Families struggling to make ends meet can be assured that their students will have access to healthy school meals, whether they are learning at home or in school. School meal programs can remain focused on safely meeting nutritional needs of children in their communities without having to worry about burdensome regulations.”