Spotlight Exclusives

Nutrition Waivers: One Tool with Big Impact and Bipartisan Support

Levar M. Stoney and John C. Giles Levar M. Stoney and John C. Giles, posted on

The past two years of the COVID pandemic have shown us that new challenges can, and will, arise at any time. As community leaders, we’ve witnessed firsthand the tireless work of many individuals, organizations and schools who’ve pivoted and adapted countless times to ensure our communities remain healthy, safe and nourished throughout it all.

While our communities continue to battle hardship and uncertainty, one thing has been constant: kids are getting the nutrition they need to learn and grow thanks to schools and local organizations responding creatively and with flexibility.

Their ability to do this is, in part, due to child nutrition waivers, which have allowed them to feed children in ways that work best for each community.

But unless Congress takes immediate action, this flexibility – and our ability to continue reaching kids with the healthy meals they need – is in danger.

Early in the pandemic, Congress gave the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the authority to issue these national child nutrition waivers so meal programs could pivot and adapt despite all of the obstacles they faced. But this authority expires on June 30 even though we know the challenges school meal programs are facing won’t be over by then.

It’s hard to overstate how critical these waivers are. They’re one simple tool that has both a big impact on our communities and important bipartisan support.

As the leaders of the Mayors Alliance to End Childhood Hunger, a nonpartisan initiative that taps the individual and collective leadership of more than 70 mayors across the country, we are committed to taking meaningful actions designed to end childhood hunger in cities nationwide.

That’s why we support the extension of child nutrition waivers and penned a letter to Congressional leadership signed by 45 other mayors.

By granting the U.S. Department of Agriculture authorization to extend waivers, Congress can simultaneously ensure kids across the nation have access to healthy meals, while also helping schools and community organizations budget and plan more effectively as they transition back to more normal operations.

This is important for both the upcoming summer months and for the 2022-2023 school year.

Summer is just around the corner and right now, schools and organizations are preparing for summer meals operations. If waivers expire at the end of June, this will jeopardize their ability to reach kids during the summer months. Indeed, without the assurance of continued flexibility, many summer meals sites may not even open at all.

Even with students back in the classroom, the waivers are essential. Many schools are looking toward the 2022-2023 school year, drafting budgets and scheduling staff training. As they do so, they grapple with challenges like global supply chain issues, economic aftershocks and emerging COVID variants.

The waivers allow schools to continue to serve students safely, pivot quickly when classrooms or entire schools have to quarantine, and adapt and respond to challenges in real time all while helping them shift back to regular operations.

The consequences of inaction are severe. When kids don’t get the food they need, there are serious and long-term implications on their physical and mental health, their academic achievement and even their future economic prosperity. This is good for our local communities, our states and our nation as a whole.

To make sure kids continue to get the food they need, Congress must authorize USDA to grant nationwide nutrition waivers as needed through the summer and the 2022-2023 school year.

Feeding kids today is one of the smartest investments we can make to help them face the challenges of tomorrow.


Levar M. Stoney is mayor of the City of Richmond and chair of the Mayors Alliance to End Childhood Hunger, a partnership of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. He can be contacted at



John C. Giles is mayor of Mesa and vice chair of the Mayors Alliance to End Childhood Hunger. He can be contacted at

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