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Fall 2020 Nutrition Newsletter

Dear Community,

With the beginning of an unprecedented 2020-21 school year behind us, it is hard to believe we are already into October!  Regardless of how your district began the Fall 2020 semester, it is now more important than ever to fuel student success by making sure all students have access to safe, nutritious, and healthy school meals. Our Fall 2020 newsletter provide information on child nutrition programs and the waivers that have been put into place to help these programs feed more than 700,000 children in Michigan’s schools. Everyone in our organization is unwaveringly grateful for the hard work of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), school districts, sponsors and food service workers whose continued diligence ensures children don't go hungry during these uncertain times.
 
It is the continued goal of Center for Civil Justice (CCJ) to help  Michigan's school districts and other community partners in promoting child nutrition and fighting hunger.  Please share this newsletter with fellow school administrators, stakeholders, and advocacy organizations, and contact us for assistance in getting your school district or community organization involved.

Kelly Bidelman
Executive Director
USDA's Nationwide COVID-19 Child Nutrition Waivers
 
USDA has issued several child nutrition program waivers to ensure students have access to meals while communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In preparation for the 2020-21 school year, the USDA has announced waiver extensions allowing continued flexibilities for meal pattern requirements, mandatory group settings and allowing parents or guardians to pick up meals for their children. 

The non-congregate waiver allows schools and sponsors to serve children meals in creative ways, with some districts choosing to deliver meals at bus stops and others allowing parents to drive to sites and pick up grab-n-go meals Options like these support the CDC’s recommended “social distancing” to help stop the spread of COVID-19 while helping make sure children are provided with proper nutrition. To see which programs are eligible for various waivers, check out the chart below. For more information and to stay updated on program waivers, visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/cn/child-nutrition-monitoring-nationwide-waiver.

Advocates and partners can also help spread the word about the availability of meals. Open site locations can be found using MDE's site locator

How Pandemic EBT Helps Michigan Families
 
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and amidst the nationwide shut down of schools during the 2019-2020 school year, Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) was established with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). This novel program allowed state agencies to provide nutrition assistance to students receiving free or reduced cost meals with the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. The program was first implemented in Michigan and aimed to address increased food insecurity amongst school aged children related to the loss of school meals during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Households that were receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits or who had at least one child in a school participating in the Community Eligibility Program (CEP) were automatically eligible.  Benefits have been distributed to families twice, once in April for the loss of March and April meal costs and again in June for the months of May and June. On October 1, 2020, a short-term spending package was approved, which includes extended funding of P-EBT benefits for the 2020-2021 school year, language for the provisioning of meals at schools engaged in hybrid-learning models and expands P-EBT to young children who attend child care facilities. For more information on P-EBT visit New America's report, "It has meant everything": How P-EBT Helped Families in Michigan.

If parents in your school or district inquire whether they should have received P-EBT benefits, they may contact the Department of Health and Human Services at 1-833-905-0028, and an inquiry team will work to determine eligibility and distribute accurate payments. 

Now Playing: School Lunch - National School Lunch Week is October 12-16

National School Lunch Week (NSLW) was established in 1962 to highlight the importance of children eating a healthy and nutritious school lunch.  The COVID-19 Pandemic has further stressed how important school lunch is for both students and their families. Celebrating NSLW can assist schools and districts in increasing student participation and spread the message to parents that you’re serving healthy and delicious lunches. For more information on how your school or district can participate in NSLW visit, the School Nutrition Association's NSLW website

          

 

Participate in Lights On Afterschool!
10-22-2020

Join more than 8,000 communities and 1 million Americans in celebrating afterschool programs for this year's Lights On Afterschool! This nationwide event, organized by the Afterschool Alliance, calls attention to the importance of afterschool programs and the resources required to keep the lights on and the doors open. 

Afterschool is especially celebratory this year, with many programs creating innovative ways to make sure they are offered to the many students and families that rely on them.

To learn more about Lights On Afterschool, register an event, access event planning tools, or to find out what’s going on in your area on 10-22-2020, visit afterschoolalliance.org.  Those who register will receive free Lights On Afterschool posters to help promote their event, and their events will be promoted to media and the public by the Afterschool Alliance.  Lights On Afterschool is a project of the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that all children have access to afterschool programs.


Kids throughout Michigan will benefit from the inclusion of statewide expansion to the 10 Cents a Meal program in the 2021 state budget. The 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan's Kids & Farms grant program provides schools with 10 cents per meal in match funding as an incentive to purchase fresh, Michigan-grown produce for their school meal programs This program aims to improve nutrition and eating habits for Michigan children and to invest in Michigan agriculture.  The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is hoping to launch the application process by October 12.  Interested school districts as well as sponsor's of the Child and Adult Food Care Program are now eligible to apply for 10 Cents a Meal, and should watch for MDE communications about the grant process. To learn more about this program, grant application tips and to sign-up as a supporter, visit https://www.tencentsmichigan.org/.
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