The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) extended several waivers that will allow children to continue receiving free meals this summer when schools are out of session.

All children regardless of income will be able to receive meals through Sept. 30, 2021. Anyone over 18 with mental or physical disabilities is also eligible.

The waiver extensions mean that meals served through summer meal programs, including the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO), will be available in all areas at no cost. Meals can be served outside of the normally required group settings and meal times. Also, parents and guardians can pick up meals for children, and also pick up multiple days’ worth of meals to feed multiple children.

According to the USDA, there may be up to 12 million children living in households in the U.S. where there is not always enough to eat. The goal of extending waivers is to provide relief to many children in families who have been hard-hit by the pandemic.

Setting Up a Food Site Pick-up sites aren’t limited to schools. Districts can set up meal sites at libraries, community centers, churches, and other locations that are participating in the program.

“We want everyone to know these meals are available to every child in New Jersey,” New Jersey Department of Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher said. “The extension of these waivers for the summer feeding programs will allow this essential need to be met for all students.”

The USDA issued guidance to empower communities to establish meal sites. To learn more about how the program works and the role of sponsors and meal sites, visit the website.

To find meal sites, click here.