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Commissioner Miller Authorizes School Meals at No Cost in Federal Disaster Areas (8/30/2017)

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller announced today that he has requested and received authorization from the federal government to allow schools in the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey to provide meals to students for an entire month at no cost to their families for the entire month of September. Additionally, Commissioner Miller has directed that students displaced by the storm to locations elsewhere in Texas will also qualify for school meals at no cost.


“While Texas families recover from this historic storm, the last thing they need to worry about is how to pay for a school meal for their child,” Commissioner Miller said. “The Texas Department of Agriculture is working with our partners at USDA and schools throughout the affected areas to make sure children get the food they need, when they need it.”


Immediately after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, the Texas Department of Agriculture's (TDA) Food and Nutrition staff requested a waiver from USDA's Food & Nutrition Services for meal service times, meal pattern requirements and the authorization for schools to provide meals to children in disaster areas at no cost through the National School Lunch (NSLP) and School Breakfast Programs. The waiver was approved by USDA on Aug. 29.


Due to Commissioner Miller’s leadership, more than 1.3 million students in the 18 counties under the presidential disaster declaration related to Hurricane Harvey are now eligible to receive meals at school at no cost through Sept. 30, 2017. Students who are displaced and move to a different school district not located within the disaster area can still qualify for school meals at no cost to their families.

The waiver also provides for schools in these areas to serve meals at different times than the normal pattern, as well as giving meal providers flexibility in meal planning based on what is available to them that may not fit into the normal school meal planning template. An example of this scenario would beallowing a school to serve lunch without milk if milk is not readily available and the school still receiveing federal reimbursement, which is normally not allowed under the NSLP.

Commissioner Miller also extended his thanks to USDA personnel who moved quickly to accept the waiver and made it possible for school districts in the affected areas to provide meals to hungry kids at no cost to their families during this extremely difficult time.

“I want to give a big heartfelt 'thank you' to those school district food and nutrition folks who are struggling under all sorts of adverse conditions to make sure Texas kids get the food they need,” Commissioner Miller said. “There are many heroes in a disaster like this, and this surely includes anyone who helps feed a hungry child. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.”

For more information on TDA’s Food & Nutrition program and the USDA waivers in effect until Sept. 30, please visit our Food & Nutrition website or call us at 1-877-TEX-MEAL.

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