Friday, December 2, 2022

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Group wants rollbacks of some IA voting restrictions; RSV, Flu, COVID: KY faces "Triple Threat" this winter; Appeals court halts special master review of documents seized at Mar-a-Lago.

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The Senate passes a bill forcing a labor agreement in an effort to avoid a costly railway worker strike. The House Ways and Means Committee has former President Trump's tax returns in hand. The Agriculture Committee is looking at possible regulations for cryptocurrency following the collapse of cryptocurrency giant FTX. The Supreme Court will be reviewing the legality of Biden s student debt relief program next year. Anti-semitic comments from Ye spark the deletion of tweets from the the House Judiciary Committee GOP's Twitter account.

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The first-ever "trout-safe" certification goes to an Idaho fish farm, the Healthy Housing Initiative helps improve rural communities' livability, and if Oklahoma is calling to you, a new database makes it easier for buyers and builders to find available lots.

Advocates: Extend Child-Nutrition Waivers Past June 30

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Thursday, February 24, 2022   

Children's advocates are sounding the alarm about the expiration of a program they say has been key to keeping low-income children fed during the pandemic.

Child nutrition waivers were created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of March 2020, which gave the U.S. Department of Agriculture the power to approve more than two dozen provisions allowing state and local organizations flexibility to run free meal programs during COVID-19.

Patty Barker, No Kid Hungry campaign director for the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, said the waivers are vital to the ongoing pandemic recovery.

"We already had a drop-off on meal participation during the pandemic because of the way kids were attending school, many of them virtually," Barker observed. "The struggle will continue to reach those kids if suddenly there's just a change, 'Oh, well, let's just drop off from pandemic to back to normal.' "

About 65% of Arkansas children qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, according to recent data. The waivers are set to expire June 30. Waiver provisions include universal free meals for students and permitting parents to pick up food from school- and community-based sites to bring home to their children.

Crystal FitzSimons, director of school and out-of-school programs for the Food Research and Action Center, said if the waivers end June 30, it would dramatically impact the free Summer Food Service Program many families rely on when school is not in session.

"The grab-and-go meals would disappear," FitzSimons pointed out. "The availability of it in communities of Arkansas, the sponsors would have a more difficult time operating the program, so we'd see sites have to close. Summer food sponsors would have to completely change how they operate their program."

The Keeping School Meals Flexible Act, bipartisan legislation introduced in the House this month, would extend the waivers.

FitzSimons noted the hope is Congress will extend the waivers through the next federal funding bill, which must be passed by March 11.


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