The Department of Agriculture over the weekend approved requests from California and Washington to allow meal service during school closures to minimize potential exposure to the new coronavirus. 

The meals are available at no cost to low-income children, and are not required to be served in a group setting, to ensure kids receive nutritious meals while schools are temporarily closed. 

The waivers are effective immediately and will continue through June 30, 2020. 

Brandon Lipps, Deputy Undersecretary for USDA’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, says the agency “stands ready” to provide additional assistance to California and Washington, along with any other areas impacted by COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. 

Confirmed cases of the virus are expected to increase in the United States as the availability of test kits increases. 

USDA says all Food and Nutrition Service programs have flexibilities and contingencies built-in to allow them to respond to on-the-ground realities in the event of a disaster or emergency. 

For more information about the coronavirus response across USDA, visit