WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — With the extension of the free meal program, kids starting school don’t need to worry about going hungry.

“It’s for all the kids everywhere. Those who are attending school in-person, those who are attending virtually,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said.

Perdue says estimating how much funds they have available is difficult because data from schools and feeding sights are 60 to 90 days behind.

“So, we’re making the best estimate based on the experience we’ve had since March,” Perdue said.

Both Democrats and Republicans wanted Perdue to renew the program, so this announcement brings a sigh of relief in both parties.

“We know in West Virginia that a lot of our children rely on schools for nutrition, breakfast and lunch,” West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said.

Capito says she’s glad to see the USDA adapting, so children and parents have one less thing to worry about.

“I don’t think there is any dispute that we want to make sure our children are able to get nutritious meals like they would if they were in school,” Capito said.

Perdue says the allocated money should last until Dec. 31. If not, USDA will have to prioritize those with the greatest need.

“The free and reduced [meal] school children will always be covered just like they always have,” Perdue said.

Perdue says parents can pick up the meals from schools or from sights like Boys and Girls Clubs or the YMCA.

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