AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller on Friday announced the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) has been granted flexibility from the federal school meal program to allow schools to continue to provide meals to students while they are closed due to coronavirus concerns.
The federal waiver would give the TDA the authority to grant schools the freedom on a case-by-case basis to provide meals on an individual basis while the school is closed. This is meant to help curb the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing while ensuring students still have access to food.
"Whether its Hurricane Harvey or coronavirus, if a school decides to shut down, they need the flexibility to keep serving students the best way they see fit," said Miller. "We're here to support our schools so they can serve their students the best way they see fit. It's all about common sense and local control."
This waiver will apply to schools that use U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) child nutrition programs through the TDA, including the National School Lunch Program, and choose to close due to the coronavirus. Meals that are served by closed schools beginning on March 14 will be eligible for federal reimbursement.
Any school wishing to provide meals after closures must apply through the TDA to serve meals.
The TDA is working with its federal partners to provide program flexibilities from the USDA that would allow schools to more easily and safely offer meals to students during potential closures. These flexibilities would support schools and other childcare centers who choose to continue serving meals
The TDA is encouraging all program operators to share good hygiene practices and engage in contingency planning to respond accordingly to any disruption in operations.
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