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Rep. Peter Welch On Coronavirus Relief: Sick Leave, Unemployment Insurance And School Meals

Rep. Peter Welch speaks at a November 2019 meeting of the House Intelligence Committee.
Bill O'Leary
Associated Press
Rep. Peter Welch speaks at a November 2019 meeting of the House Intelligence Committee.

Rep. Peter Welch has been thinking about how Congress can respond to the coronavirus, from extending unemployment insurance and paid time off, to modifying existing food aid like SNAP and school lunches.

Welch tells Vermont Edition Congress should amend federal food policy as the coronavirus continues to spread, so that potential school closures don't exacerbate hunger and food insecurity. 

"Under the school lunch program there are very strict requirements that essentially you have to be doing it at school," Welch says.

"We could suspend those regulations temporarily. And try to make creative approaches to letting kids have access to meals."

How children and families could access meals if schools are closed or if families are quarantined would remain a challenge.

"The logistics are incredibly difficult," Welch adds. "It may mean that some of the kids go to a meal site, and we just make that meal available, because the food security issue is going to be a mess."

There have been no federal advisories for widespread school closures, but individual schools and districts have begun to close in some areas.

Listen to the full interview above to hear more about how Congressman Peter Welch is working to address coronavirus concerns from Washington.

Broadcast on Tuesday, Mar. 10, 2020 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
Matt Smith worked for Vermont Public from 2017 to 2023 as managing editor and senior producer of Vermont Edition.
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