Senate sends school meals bill back to House as June 30 deadline looms

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Senate sends school meals bill back to House as June 30 deadline looms

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., is a sponsor of the Keep Kids Fed Act, which would extend support for school meals for kids. The Senate sent the bill back to the House as Congress tries to extend support for the meals by a June 30 deadline. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

The Senate has sent a nearly $3 billion bipartisan bill on school lunches back to the House as waivers that allowed free school lunches for all approach a June 30 expiration. The House had passed the bill 376-42 Thursday.

The Keep Kids Fed Act would extends support for some of the waivers that provided school meals to millions of kids during the COVID-19 pandemic while ending others.

The new bill would have let kids who qualify for reduced price meals to instead get them free through the Agriculture Department’s National School Lunch program.

But Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., blocked the bill so that he could get the reduced price rather than free meals back in place.

That’s what sent the bill back to the House.

According to the House Committee on Education and Labor, the bill extending school meal waivers would increase reimbursement rates for the 2022-2023 school year by an additional 15 cents per breakfast and 40 cents per lunch.

The committee said in a fact sheet on the issue that if Congress fails to extend certain flexibilities under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, they will expire June 30, “potentially stripping millions of students of access to healthy meals.”

According to NBC News, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., was disappointed that the Senate changed the bill and sent it back to the House. “But without this bill, we would have no support for kids at all,” she said. “I look forward to revisiting this policy as we consider child nutrition reauthorization.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D- Minn., supports providing meals for kids at school. She said earlier this month that more than 38 million people in the United States, including 12 million children, are currently food insecure.

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