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USDA Recognizes Issue with Students Missing Meals on Snow Days

Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 6:21 PM

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A USDA-provided lunch in Arlington, Va. (Photo: USDA on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/41284017@N08/6276690879/)

Thousands of families had to find different ways to feed their kids after multiple snow days cut them off from the usual free or reduced-price meals. Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow talked to a federal official to find out what can be done to address this issue.

The tough winter weather forced hundreds of schools to close several times in January and February. Some schools racked up more than 15 snow days. This left thousands of students, who usually depend on free and reduced-price meals from their schools, to find food elsewhere.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a rule that prohibits USDA funded meals from being delivered off of school grounds. Hunger advocates have said lifting this rule could help get food to these kids during snow days.

Kevin Concannon is the USDA Under Secretary of Food and Nutrition Service. He says the department is working on possibly addressing the issue but so far there’s no clear solution.

“I know that’s been brought to our attention by school superintendents, by principals and others (who) say they struggle with a decision to cancel school, weatherwise, when they know that it means that kids, among other impacts, may not have access to healthy food that day,” Concannon said.

Concannon notes that there have been waivers created in the past that allow states to move these meals off-site in the event of extreme heat.

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