Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it is extending COVID-19 school meal program waivers through June 30, 2022. Schools are allowed to serve meals through USDA's National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option (SSO), a program typically only available during the summer months, so that students can continue to safely receive free school meals for the 2021-2022 School Year.USDA notes, "This option maintains the nutrition standards of the standard school meal programs – including a strong emphasis on providing fruits and vegetables, fluid milk, whole grains, and sensible calorie levels, while allowing schools to serve free meals to all children. In addition, schools that choose this option will receive higher-than-normal meal reimbursements for every meal they serve, which will support them in serving the most nutritious meals possible while managing increased costs associated with pandemic-related operational and supply chain challenges. This option also affords schools the financial flexibility to further customize their meal service design to fit their local needs." The agency also noted it will continue to offer targeted meal pattern flexibility and technical assistance and allow schools and child/adult care institutions to continue providing breakfast, lunch, and after-school snacks in non-congregate settings at flexible meal times, among other provisions.The press statement also highlights nutrition-related updates from the Department of Education's (ED) recent guidance for reopening schools, "COVID-19 Handbook Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students' Needs" as well as several actions taken by USDA to address food security and hunger issues under the American Rescue Plan. For more information, please read USDA's full press release here.