Certain Georgia families could lose access to free or limited school meal programs in the event that Congress does not extend child nutrition waivers for schools that were issued in the course of the epidemic.

The waivers that offer childcare and schools with the flexibility they need are set being canceled at close of the school year.

Health advocates for public health argue that when waivers run out before the deadline, children could lose access to a reliable source of nutrition. Families will be unable to paying for food, and schools will have to deal with more financial pressures.

“We’re soliciting Congress to prolong this program until the 2022-23 school year and to seriously think about making it the norm,” said Jamie Bussel who is a senior program officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “This ought to be considered a top national priority.”

In exchange for these waivers, or flexibility schools are now allowed to provide food to all students, free of charge.

“And this is an extremely powerful and effective response in the face of the many difficulties financial, which families have encountered over the last two years,”” she added.

Despite the decline in COVID-19 cases These programs have increased in importance as the disease continues to spread as the Dr. Evelyn Johnson, a pediatrician at Southeast Georgia Health System-Brunswick Campus.

Childhood hunger is not a new phenomenon She said that and we all know how the effects of hunger on children are real.

“It’s an inscrutable issue However, research suggests that children in families that aren’t able to accessibility to nutritious food sources are likely to fall ill more frequently,” Johnson said. “They recuperate from illnesses much slower and are admitted to hospitals more often.”

Federal programs like Women and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have existed for a long time.

“One of our responsibilities being pediatricians, is to inform (patients) that if they weren’t aware of these programs such as WIC SNAP as well as the EBT for pandemics, breakfast programs at school, the after-school lunch programs, and the complete breakfast program,” Johnson said. “They’re available and we want our families to have access to these programs.”

This story is brought from The Current GA through a collaboration in conjunction with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom that covers the state Georgia.