A group of Democratic congressmen today demanded Education deparment to specify how it will distribute food to children in the public system in the midst of the coronavirus emergency.
The legislators — by means of a letter sent to the secretary of the agency, Eligio Hernández– requested that they detail how the Department will ensure that the selected non-profit organizations fulfill their responsibility to deliver food from school canteens to children in the public system.
The letter was signed by Puerto Rican congressmen Nydia Velázquez, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez Y Darren Soto, the representative Raúl Grijalva and the congresswoman Caroline Maloney.
In a statement through his official Twitter profile, Velázquez warned that Puerto Rico has the highest rate of child poverty in the entire United States at 58%.
“Although the island has been on curfew for almost a month, the children have not been receiving school meals,” said the New York congresswoman.
The congressmen also asked the secretary when the food distribution begins and what criteria they will use to select the non-profit organizations. On Wednesday, Hernández indicated that —despite requests from the Fiscal Control Board— he will not open the school cafeterias to serve students in the public system. Instead, he argued that the food will be delivered to nonprofit organizations.
“The concern of the Fiscal Oversight Board is essentially aimed at making food available for children in our educational system. The Department of Education made the inquiry to Food Nutrition Services to complete the donation of food that is subsidized with federal funds and they authorized that they can be donated to the Food Bank of Puerto Rico and at Salvation Army, action that we complete “, explained the head of Education in an interview with Meter.
Congressmen also noted that Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which essentially authorizes school canteens – with due precautions – to provide food to their students in the midst of the coronavirus emergency, also known as the Covid-19 .
In addition, Democratic lawmakers asked Hernandez to detail the steps they will take to serve special education students and whether food delivery could include parents. They argued that parents of those students in need have also been provided with food in the cities of New York and Los Angeles.
Congressmen gave the agency 48 hours to respond.
According to a written statement sent by the agency’s press staff, the Department is currently preparing a response to the group of legislators.
“At the moment, the School Food Authority and the State Agency for Food and Nutrition Services, both attached to the DE, continue donating products to other entities that offer services to those in need. Already Education donated 110 thousand pounds of products to the Bank of Food and Salvation Army and will continue donating those foods that have a useful date, “reads the written statement.