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NPR: "Millions of children will miss healthy school meals when pandemic relief expires"

On March 21, 2022, NPR reported, "When schools pivoted to virtual learning early in the pandemic, the National School Lunch Program was thrown into chaos. Millions of children rely on school meals to keep hunger at bay, so school nutrition directors scrambled to adopt new, creative ways to distribute food to families. Some of these changes were improvements on the status quo, they say...

"Even though kids are back in school, Martin says many of her pandemic innovations are worth keeping. But the waivers that gave her that flexibility — and a boost in federal funds — are set to expire at the end of June.

"Health policy experts say the flexibility has served children well. 'When you improve the ability for the country to deliver food to children, to families, you improve the health outcomes of Americans,' says physician Ezekiel Emanuel, co-director of the Healthcare Transformation Institute at the University of Pennsylvania.

"The pandemic shone a spotlight on the links between poor nutrition and chronic illnesses such as diabetes and obesity, as well as the risk of serious illness from COVID-19, so Emanuel says initiatives that make child nutrition programs more efficient should continue."

"Martin says the expiration of the waivers and increased funding "is going to be a disaster for my program."

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