WASHINGTON—Following efforts supported by U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) led by U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) agreed to fully extend school meal waivers through the end of the 2020-2021 school year, giving schools the flexibility that they need to fully serve students whether or not they are attending school in person.

“I’m glad that USDA decided to fully extend these waivers through the end of the school year. Whether kids are learning in-person or virtually, school meals are a lifeline to make sure that no child in Connecticut goes hungry, especially during this pandemic. I’ve spoken with countless families who have had their lives upended by COVID-19 and need these programs ensure that kids have access to healthy food no matter what else they are facing,” said Murphy.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve visited countless food distribution events and it’s clear that families across our state are struggling. This decision from the Department of Agriculture will allow those families in Connecticut and across the nation to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their children can continue to have access to healthy food through the end of the school year,” said Blumenthal.

Murphy, Blumenthal and Hassan joined their colleagues in requesting that the USDA extend these waivers back in July. Following the Senators’ outreach, the USDA announced that it would extend some of the school meal waivers only until the end of 2020, not the end of the school year in 2021 like the Senators had requested. In response, Senator Hassan led another letter with 28 of her colleaguesincluding Murphy and Blumenthal, to the USDA in September, calling once again on the Department to extend all school meal waivers through the end of the 2020-2021 school year.