Participation in the US Department of Agriculture’s Summer Meal Programs: 2019-2021.

Participation in the US Department of Agriculture’s Summer Meal Programs: 2019-2021.

Publication date: Jan 23, 2024

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) summer meal programs are designed to provide meals at no cost while school is out of session. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, several regulatory waivers were enacted to facilitate meal distribution. The aim of this study was to assess the rates of meal distribution before and after these waivers were in effect. Meal distribution patterns for 2019, 2020, and 2021 were examined through (1) a descriptive comparison of the number of participating districts, sponsors, meal sites, and meals distributed statewide, and (2) repeated measures ANOVAs to examine changes among districts in operation all years. The waivers were associated with an increase in the total number of participating districts, sponsors, and meal sites; an increase in the total number of meals distributed to children during the summer months; and an increase in meal distribution among sponsors that had been in place since 2019. Expanding the area eligibility criteria and enabling flexibility in meal distribution methods increased the number of meals provided. This study provides important preliminary evidence to suggest that the USDA should consider permanent regulatory changes to this program to maximize its reach.

Concepts Keywords
Covid food insecurity
Meals school nutrition
Pandemic Seamless Summer Option
Summer summer meal program

Semantics

Type Source Name
disease VO USDA
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic

Original Article

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