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WICHITA, Kan. — The governor of Kansas wants the federal government to keep paying for school lunches. Gov. Laura Kelly sent a letter to congressional leaders Wednesday urging them to take immediate action to extend Child Nutrition Waivers.

The program that provides free school meals ends June 30. So when children return to school this fall, parents will have to pay for meals or apply for assistance, according to KSNW.

In her letter to the leaders of the House and Senate, Kelly said the waivers Child Nutrition Waivers have been vital for Kansas schools.

“In our state, over 120,000 kids are food insecure, yet 40% of them do not traditionally qualify for federal school nutrition programs,” Kelly said.

“The statistics are clear: without an extension of these waivers more Kansas kids are going to go hungry, hurting their ability to succeed both in and out of the classroom.”

The governor said food services directors across Kansas have told her that when the waivers expire, it will cause significant disruptions to their operations and negatively impact students.

“These school nutrition professionals have reported rapidly increasing program costs, frequent delivery delays that impact their ability to comply with meal patterns, and supply shipments arriving without items they have ordered,” Kelly said.

According to her, the Department of Agriculture has found that as many as 95% of Kansas schools are experiencing significant food supply chain issues.

“When classes begin in the fall, our school cafeterias will be required to meet pre-pandemic requirements that are no longer feasible given current supply chain challenges,” Kelly said. “Allowing these waivers to expire while these challenges persist will only make it harder for schools to feed our children.”

She also wrote about the expiration of the Seamless Summer Option Waiver, saying schools use it to provide summer meals to kids.

“The failure to extend the federal Child Nutrition Waivers will be catastrophic for families and students across the country,” Kelly said.

According to Education Week, California and Maine have passed universal free school lunch programs, and several other states are considering it. Colorado is putting the issue to voters this November.

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