Sitemap


Articles from 2020 In July


5@5: Meat consumption drops most since 2000 | Advocates challenge Tyson ads

5@5: Meat consumption drops most since 2000 | Advocates challenge Tyson ads

The world is finally losing its taste for meat

Meat production is expected to dip for the second year in a row, and the 3% drop in per-capita meat consumption will be the biggest decline in 20 years. Consumers are shifting away from beef in particular, which is good news for the environment because cattle represent roughly 65% of the livestock sector's greenhouse gas emissions. Read more at Bloomberg

 

Consumer groups challenge 'deceptive' Tyson ads that brag about worker safety

A worker coalition and environmental nonprofit are asking the government to prevent Tyson Foods from advertising to the public that its workers are "safer than ever." The groups point out that Tyson has had more COVID-19 cases than any other meatpacker throughout the pandemic in addition to reporting more severe injuries than all but two other companies since 2015. Read more at The Counter

 

Walmart, Kroger bottle their own milk and shake up American dairy industry

Grocers are moving into the milk-bottling business, which poses a huge threat to long-standing operators in the $40 billion U.S. milk industry. Milk consumption has steadily dropped 40% over four decades, but it still ranks within the among the top 10 purchases at certain big-box retailers. This has led companies like Walmart to reduce costs and pass down lower prices to customers by operating their own plants, leaving America's dairy processors and farmers in turmoil. Read more at The Wall Street Journal

 

Where's the beef? Vegetarian butcher eyes meat association membership

Jaap Korteweg is a farmer-turned-entrepreneur who sells meat made from plants under the moniker "The Vegetarian Butcher." Now, Korteweg is petitioning to join two fraternities of butchers in his native Germany because his plant-based fare is high-quality enough to compete with conventional options. He was denied by the German Butchers' Association on the grounds that plants aren't meat. Read more at CGTN

 

More U.S. children going hungry as coronavirus pandemic continues

Parents are struggling to feed their children amid COVID-19; during the first week of july it was reported that 13,570,374 households with children did not have enough to eat. Economic adversity affects children well into adulthood, and those raised in food-insecure households are at a higher risk of depression, deficits in educational and social skills, suicidal ideation and overall poor health. Read more at Oregon Live

Amazon online grocery sales triple in second quarter

Whole Foods Market whole foods market delivery loading area

During Amazon’s second quarter of 2020, the retail giant continued to see huge gains overall due the impact of COVID-19, with online grocery sales alone reaching three times last year’s figures.

For the second quarter ended June 30, 2020, Amazon reported overall net income increased to $5.2 billion in the second quarter, or $10.30 per diluted share, compared with net income of $2.6 billion, or $5.22 per diluted share, in second quarter 2019. Net sales increased 40% to $88.9 billion in the second quarter, compared with $63.4 billion in second quarter 2019. Excluding the $582 million unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, net sales increased 41% compared with second quarter 2019.

Operating income increased to $5.8 billion in the second quarter, compared with operating income of $3.1 billion in second quarter 2019.

With the higher sales due to the pandemic also came higher operating expenses for Amazon. Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO, noted in a statement, “As expected, we spent over $4 billion on incremental COVID-19-related costs in the quarter to help keep employees safe and deliver products to customers in this time of high demand—purchasing personal protective equipment, increasing cleaning of our facilities, following new safety process paths, adding new backup family care benefit, and paying a special thank you bonus of over $500 million to front-line employees and delivery partners. We’ve created over 175,000 new jobs since March and are in the process of bringing 125,000 of these employees into regular, full-time positions.”

During a late Thursday earnings call with analysts, Brian Olsavsky, chief financial officer and senior vice president, pointed to the continuing strength of the online grocery category, which began to surge in the first quarter of 2020 during the early outbreaks of the coronavirus.

“Amazon’s second quarter was another highly unusual quarter,” he said. “As I mentioned on our last earnings call, we began to see a significant increase in customer demand beginning in early March, and demand remained elevated throughout Q2. Strong early demand in groceries and consumable products continued into Q2, while demand increased during the quarter in our other major product categories like hardlines and softlines.

“At the same time, we continued to focus on stepped-up employee safety, particularly in our fulfillment and logistics operations, to help ensure the safety and well-being of our employees and partners.”

“We’re reaching more customers with our grocery offerings,” said Olsavsky. “Online grocery sales tripled year-over-year.”

Amazon, which owns more than 500 Whole Foods stores, said it increased grocery delivery capacity by more than 160% and tripled grocery pickup locations during the second quarter.

Physical store sales saw revenue drop 13% to $3.8 billion during Q2. Those sales come mainly from Whole Foods, however, and exclude online orders made through Amazon’s brick-and-mortar brands, such as Prime Now delivery and pickup via Whole Foods stores. That drop in revenue can be attributed to less in-store traffic overall during the pandemic.

Asked about e-commerce adoption by consumers going, Olsavsky was optimistic. “We’re super encouraged by the fact that grocery delivery has picked up, and that’s been accelerated versus what we thought,” he said.

supermarket news logoThis piece originally appeared on Supermarket News, a New Hope Network sister website. Visit the site for more grocery trends and insights.

The 6 guest NEXTY Awards judges for Spark Change

The NEXTY Awards is an awards program that recognizes the pinnacle of excellence in the natural products industry, elevating impactful brands and products that inspire a healthy, sustainable future for people and planet. 

Winning a NEXTY can have a profound impact on a brand, offering newfound exposure to investors, retailers, distributors, media, influencers and more. The finalists and winners are chosen in a thorough two-tier judging process held in the New Hope Network office in Boulder, Colorado. 

In the preliminary judging round, the internal New Hope Network content, marketing, standards and NEXT Data and Insights teams come together to whittle down hundreds of nominees to approximately 75 finalists. For the final judging round, New Hope Network invites a panel of industry experts to help the internal team select a single winner in each of the 23 categories. The finalists and winners are evaluated through deep discussion and debate on several criteria. These include written answers to what the company and product's Innovation, Inspiration and Integrity is, the product's taste, ease of use, social and sustainability missions, divsersity and inclusion practices, environmentally responsible packaging, labelling, brand storytelling, clean ingredients, nutritional quality and more. 

While typically celebrated through Natural Products Expos, the highly coveted awards will be celebrated through Spark Change this fall. Spark Change is New Hope Network's digital product discovery, education and connection platform. The selected NEXTY finalists will be unveiled in the Spark Change Kick-Off event on Wednesday, August 26, and the NEXTY winners will be announced in the Spark Change Closing Celebration on November 9-10.

Interested in nominating? For the Spark Change NEXTY Awards, any CPG brand in the natural products industry can nominate. The deadline to nominate is August 5 and the product delivery deadline is August 14. You can nominate here.

To help the New Hope Network team select the NEXTY Awards winners, an elite group of six industry experts will weigh in with unique perspectives on which brands deserve a coveted NEXTY. With a wealth of experience in supply chain, investment, retail, nutrition, branding, sourcing and more, this year's judging panel uplifts the excellence of the NEXTY Awards.

Click through this gallery to meet the guest judges and learn more about the expertise they’ll bring to the Spark Change NEXTY Awards judging panel!

Natural products innovation survey seeks input

innovation-survey-nhimage.png

What is the state of natural products innovation during the pandemic and as the curve flattens? New Hope Network and sister Informa Health and Nutrition banners such as Natural Products Insider and Food and Beverage Insider seek your help to measure what’s happening in this changing marketplace. This 10-question survey takes a high-level look at product development and where innovation thinking and budgeting is headed. Thank you for your help.

All answers remain confidential and will only be reported in aggregate.

Answer the Natural Products Industry Innovation Survey ...

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Checkout: Eli Lesser-Goldsmith on growing natural retail in Vermont

Abigail Johnston Healthy Living Natural Market looks to be Northeast's leading retailer

There’s a lot of buzz about brick-and-mortar’s struggles these days, and the recent Lucky’s Market and Earth Fare bankruptcies sucked natural retail into that narrative. But the truth is, there is plenty of positive momentum in this space, with many independents thriving. Take, for example, Healthy Living Natural Market and Café in South Burlington, Vermont, and Saratoga Springs, New York, a bustling family-owned operation opening two new stores soon.

A mom with no business experience but a ton of passion for clean, wholesome foods, Katy Lesser started Healthy Living in 1986 and grew it into a beloved community institution. Her son, Eli Lesser-Goldsmith, joined the company after college and is now CEO, while daughter Nina Lesser-Goldsmith, who came aboard a few years later, serves as chief operations officer. Leading a dedicated staff, the trio work together to give guests an inviting place to gather, learn and discover top-quality natural and organic products.

As CEO, Eli Lesser-Goldsmith also focuses on growing the company, and he sees ample opportunity to expand throughout the Northeast. Natural Foods Merchandiser caught up with him recently to learn what has kept Heathy Living Market on the map for 35 years and what will ensure its continued success.

Healthy Living Natural Market looks to be Northeast's leading retailer

Natural Foods Merchandiser: You grew up in this business, but did you see yourself leading it one day?

Eli Lesser-Goldsmith: I began working at the store when my mom started it and I never really stopped. I worked there every summer through college and came back to work after I graduated. There were times during college and for a little while afterward when I was figuring out what I wanted to do with my life and was unsure whether I wanted to do this. But after a while, it became clear that this was something I was passionate about and a great opportunity, so I took it and ran with it.

Have you changed many things from how your mom did them?

ELG: Change and progression are core values for us, so we are constantly progressing and making changes to the business. That’s what our guests want and what our staff wants, so we are always trying to improve. Stagnation is the death of business, so we are never going to be stagnant.

Healthy Living Natural Market looks to be Northeast's leading retailer

What is Healthy Living Market best known for?

ELG: The experience in our store—both the shopping experience and the experience with our staff—our product mix and the extreme level of hospitality we deliver to our guests. That’s what sets us apart from the rest, and we are constantly looking to make the guest experience even better.

How is your staff integral to providing that exceptional experience?

ELG: First off, we love the word staff. We call them staff because we want them to feel loved, respected and appreciated. We don’t like the word employee. Nobody works for us—we work with people. We have a great group of people from all walks of life, and we pride ourselves in not having uniforms. We don’t want our staff to all look one way—we want them to act like themselves, look like themselves and be unique. Our one big requirement for working here is you have to be hospitality driven. We are a hospitality-focused business, so you need to be able to deliver that to our guests.

We also want our staff to be educated because guests come in with lots of question. They are questioning their own health or something they’ve see on social media or traditional media, which translates into them being curious and wanting to explore and learn. They do some research on their own but then come in and ask us, “How is this vitamin C different from that vitamin C?” or “What’s the difference between oat milk and almond milk?” Our staff is ready to answer those questions.

COVID-19 threw every retailer a curveball. How has the pandemic affected your stores?

ELG: This has been both a huge challenge and a huge opportunity. Obviously, it’s been a big bump in the road and has created challenges for staff and guests. We had some big [sales increases], then sales tailed off, then came back up. But we are solution oriented, so we’ve just navigated it one day at a time, and slowly and methodically chipped away at one challenge at time. I like to look at every crisis from the lens of “How can we learn and do better?”

Do you worry that the pandemic will ultimately harm brick-and-mortar grocers because consumers who switched to shopping online won’t return to physical stores?

ELG: I think it’ll be just the opposite. The next phase of retail is all about great retail, and great retail is poised for an amazing next decade. Great retailers won’t just survive, they’ll thrive, whereas stores that rest on their laurels and don’t progress will have a hard time. I think the differentiators in retail over the last few years have been experience and location, and those will continue to be the two most important things. If a retailer has one or both, they are going to thrive. If they don’t have either, they are going to struggle.

Also, situations like this pandemic will make Americans look more closely at how healthy and prepared they are for health-related crises—physically, emotionally and mentally. Our industry has been promoting health and wellness for a long time, so we are very well positioned to help people who will have questions about what to do for their bodies and minds and are looking for solutions.

Healthy Living Natural Market looks to be Northeast's leading retailer

Great timing for your expansion then.

ELG: We realized a few years ago that there is a lot of business potential in northern Vermont. It’s growing and has a lot of positive economic momentum and opportunities. So we are opening two more stores, first in Williston, then in Shelburne, each about 10 miles in a different direction from our flagship in South Burlington. These are both great communities that we are excited to be part of. The Williston store was on track to open in July, but construction was stopped [because of the COVID-19 pandemic]. It restarted mid-April, so we’re probably set back a month, two months at the most. The Shelburne store opening is further down the road. [Editor's note: The Williston store is scheduled to open in the fall, according to the Healthy Living website on July 29.]

How will the new stores differ from your existing locations?

ELG: While our flagship and Saratoga are each about 30,000 square feet, the new stores will be about 20,000 square feet. We took a couple of years to look into what concept we wanted. We studied other stores and thought this smaller size would be easily scalable and can be put into a lot of different retail situations. The new stores have all the same offerings as the existing stores, just a more curated selection.

Any additional expansion plans beyond those two stores?

ELG: Definitely. We think we have an amazing opportunity to become the leader in medium-sized-format retail in the Northeast. We’ve seen other medium-sized retailers such as New Seasons, Sprouts and even Fresh Thyme thrive elsewhere in the nation, and we really believe we can do that here.

8 ways to improve margins during COVID-19

Getty Images Bar graph drawn on paper

Gross margin is important no matter the year, no matter the trends. But the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on which companies can compete and survive, and which ones won’t. “When the tide recedes, it shows the rocks,” says Bob Burke of Natural Products Consulting. “When you have fundamental problems with your business, they’re amplified during a crisis.”

That’s why Burke says now is the time for brands to take a temperature check of their gross margins. Here are eight spots to consider first.

1. Buying efficiencies. Burke urges brands to negotiate with their ingredient suppliers and co-packers on better prices as their purchases and runs get larger.

2. Ingredient choices. There may be opportunities to reformulate using cheaper ingredients, without compromising a product’s integrity. For example, brands that use some organic ingredients in small amounts but can’t achieve organic certification may find that a natural or verified non-GMO alternative is just as good at a lower price. Or, premium ingredients from overseas may be switched with stateside options if taste isn’t impacted.

3. Package sizing. Downsizing an offering lowers the retail price and boosts appeal for shoppers. “You may be able to make a smaller bag of your product and charge less to have a more competitive price point,” Burke says.

4. SKU rationalization. Discontinue items that aren’t selling well. “This came to the fore during COVID-19 because a lot of retailers and distributors prioritized keeping the shelves full with just their best sellers,” Burke adds.

5. Sales mix. Focus on varieties of product that may be cheaper to produce but call for the same price at retail as more costly options. For example, a frozen vegetarian meal may be cheaper to produce than a meat-based meal, even if the whole line is priced equally on the shelf.

6. Channel mix. For example, a company may do about 75% of its business through a distributor, 20% direct-to-retail and 5% direct-to-consumer on its website. “If they’re able to shift that to be 60% at distributor, 30% direct-to-retail and 10% direct-to-consumer, that brings up their average price and therefore improves their gross margins,” Burke explains.

7. Packaging. “When it comes to consumer provisioning and pantry loading, there’s an opportunity to sell larger pack sizes,” Burke says. “These can be sold at a higher margin because larger sizes are more efficient to make and package.” Keep an eye on stay-at-home mandates, which could trigger another bulk buy at retail.

8. Direct-to-consumer. Though selling direct-to-consumer via a brand’s website requires investments in digital marketing, the cost may be worth it in the long-run. “The world is changing in real time before our eyes and home delivery, direct-to-consumer, curbside and other trends will stick around on the retail front,” Burke predicts. “Everyone should be looking into e-commerce, whether it’s their own site, Amazon or platforms like Thrive Market.”

5@5: Farmer relief payments miss the mark | Antitrust Amazon update

5@5: Farmer relief payments miss the mark | Antitrust Amazon update

A few farmers get huge USDA relief payments while many struggle for pennies

At least five U.S. farms collected single payments from the government that far exceed the $750,000 cap for farms owned by corporations. The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program uses a complicated formula that equates typically more expensive, farmer's market-bound produce with commodity options, and this among other factors has hit small- to mid-sized farms hard. Advocates say funneling payments to those who actually need it would mean having a stricter income cap and earmarking some of the funding for smaller farmers in particular. Read more at The Counter

 

Jeff Bezos’s antitrust grilling was a reminder of Amazon’s power over its sellers

At antitrust hearings held July 29, Jeff Bezos did not attempt to resolve concerns that Amazon's stronghold on e-commerce has the ability to make or break small merchants on a whim. Concerns were brought up regarding the company's use of seller data to determine which private-label products it would develop as well as the rising cut of sales it takes from small merchants on its platform. Read more at Vox

 

Some Instacart shoppers are having their jobs cut during the pandemic

Part-time employees of Instacart are losing their jobs as grocers rethink how they work with Instacart and use their own employees in place of gig workers. Instacart representatives said that the company has offered transfers to the majority of in-store shoppers impacted by this process, but it is yet unclear how many will stay with the company. Read more at CNN

 

Factory farms disproportionately threaten Black, Latino and Native American North Carolinians

America's industrial swine, cattle and poultry feeding operations have an outsize impact on minority populations, who must contend with the environmental and health implications (in addition to the stench) of living near animals being raised inhumanely for slaughter. Three predominantly Black, Native American and Latino counties in North Carolina are home to roughly 4.5 million hogs, over half the state's total, and none of the state's hog or poultry waste is treated or otherwise appropriately dealt with. Read more at EWG

 

Should the Dietary Guidelines help fight systemic racism?

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans will affect everything from governmental food assistance program to nutrition education efforts. But the committee of scientists that determines them is largely white, and many of the studies it cites do not reflect America's increasingly diverse population. As a result of this some groups are proposing that the guidelines evolve to address the systemic impacts of racism on nutrition such as food insecurity and lack of access to healthy, fresh foods. Read more at Civil Eats

Sprouts' second-quarter income nearly doubles from a year ago

Sprouts Farmers Market logo

E-commerce sales increases and more effective promotions pushed Sprouts Farmers Market's income up 91% from a year ago to $67 million, in the second quarter of 2020.

Net sales reached $1.6 billion, up 16% from Q2 of 2019, the company reported Wednesday. Coincidentally, the company's Q1 net sales also were $1.6 billion and a 16% increase from the same period a year ago.

"Our strong second quarter performance was driven by the strategic changes we have begun to implement across our business and the continued positive impact on demand from the COVID-19 pandemic," CEO Jack Sinclair said in a statement released before the late-afternoon conference call. "As we head into the second half of the year, our early strategic wins give me confidence in our long-term direction, and our team members’ dedication assures me we will continue to provide our communities and customers healthy food for their families."

In addition to net sales, net income, comparable sales and gross profit all increased during the quarter, which ended June 28:

  • Adjusted net income was $69.5 million compared with $35.3 million in Q2 2019, a 96.8% increase.
  • Comparable store sales rose 9.1%, while new stores showed a strong performance as well.
  • Gross profit was $613 million, a 32% increase from Q2 2019. Gross margin rose 450 basis points to 37.3%.
  • Adjusted EBITDA was $127.4 million, up from $81.5 million in the second quarter of 2019.
  • Diluted earnings per share was $0.57 compared with $0.30 a year ago. Adjusted diluted EPS was $0.59 this year, up from $0.30 last year.

The company spent about $47 million on COVID-19-related expenses—enhanced compensation, bonuses, additional sick time and safety measures—during the quarter, but Sinclair said he won't compromise on those expenses.

"Our results are due, in a large part, to our team members on the front line. As such, I am focused on supporting them with enhanced compensation and a safe work environment," Sinclair said. "I am committed to continually reviewing these topics through these trying times."

Sprouts offered delivery and curbside pick up at all its stores, and e-commerce sales rose more than 500% over last year, he reported. The company created a delivery-specific website to capture customer data, although Instacart fulfills the orders.

Sales through the website grew twice as much as total e-commerce sales, Sinclair said.

All together, e-commerce accounted for 12% of Sprouts' sales and rose 500% over a year ago, Denise Paulonis, the company's chief financial officer, said.

Delivery sales are six times higher than curbside pick up sales, but all e-commerce orders are bigger than in-store transactions and they tend to have a more profitable mix of products, such as non-perishables and supplements, she said.

"Our e-commerce business is profitable, so we really want to serve the customers where they want to be served," Paulonis said.

Sprouts' second-quarter income nearly doubles from a year ago

Sprouts Farmers Market now uses digital ads to target specific categories of customers.

New promotion strategy shows benefits

At the end of fiscal 2019, Sprouts began changing its marketing and promotions strategy. Instead of competing on price, the grocer started targeting two types of customers: the health enthusiast and the experience-seeker.

"Where they live in the country aligns nicely with our stores and our store expansion plans. Healthier foods and a pleasant store experience, highlighted by friendly customer service—two defining characteristics of Sprouts—drive their shopping habits," Sinclair said. They also tend to purchase a higher-than-average amount of fresh produce, which Sinclair called "a foundational category of Sprouts and part of our DNA."

The two consumer categories are a $200 billion-plus market, and Sprouts is capturing only a small percentage of that, he said. Using digital media—including television advertising for the first time—instead of print, Sprouts can target the customers it wants to reach.

"We're reaching more customers and, importantly, customers that align most to our offering. This new media strategy will continue to evolve," Sinclair said.

"Our messaging and promotions are evolving, as well. Gone are the days when all our marketing dollars are spent talking about price. Our promotions are starting to become all about story-telling. The products we carry are unique…and our marketing stories will bring them to life," he said.

The year so far and what's next

During July, comparable store sales are expected to increase 9% over a year ago, while e-commerce sales will account for about 11% of net sales, according to the company.

As mentioned above, Sprouts reported net sales of $1.6 billion in each of the first and second quarters. With the Q2 financial report, the company reported its first-half financial results:

  • Net income for the first two quarters of 2020 was $158.8 million compared with $91.7 million for the same period of 2019, an increase of 73%.
  • Adjusted net income was $162.2 million, compared with $92.1 million a year ago, an increase of 76%.
  • Adjusted EBITDA in 2020 is $287.8 million, up from $191.6 million in 2019.

Sprouts Farmers Market opened 10 stores so far this year and expects to open one or two of its new, smaller stores early next year, Paulonis said. The company purposefully reduced the opening of new stores as it develops the new format, Sinclair said, but the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced construction as well.

Like most retailers in recent months, Sprouts did not offer a financial outlook for the rest of the year.

"The trajectory of the COVID-19 situation remains uncertain, clouding the impact to the food retail industry over the coming quarters,” Paulonis said in the pre-call statement. “While our sales continue at elevated levels, so do additional costs associated with our team members and stores. Predicting specific outcomes remains difficult, and accordingly we are not stating a new outlook range.

"We remain confident in the financial strength of our business and our new long-term growth strategy presented last quarter."

5@5: Pandemic makes Big Meat a bad investment | Budweiser goes alcohol free

Patarapong/iStock/Thinkstock pigs

Will COVID-19 make Big Meat look like a bad investment?

The risks associated with large-scale animal agriculture have never been more visible. A recent report from Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) found that 70% of the world's biggest meat companies are highly likely to be vulnerable to another pandemic in addition to potentially contributing to one. Members of FAIRR's network reportedly represent $20 trillion in capital, and the organization has been surprisingly successful in terms of pushing for traditional capital to go beyond financial return in its considerations. Read more at Civil Eats

 

Budweiser's new beer is missing a key ingredient: Alcohol

While regular beer sales shot up 20% when the pandemic hit the U.S. in mid-March, non-alcoholic beer sales saw an even greater increase of 35% in the same time period. Budweiser is getting in on the market with Budweiser Zero, an alcohol- and sugar-free lager currently being marketed toward athletes, health-focused consumers and beer fans alike. Read more at CNN

 

The pandemic could actually strengthen the US food system

Because of the chaos COVID-19 has wrought on the U.S. food system, some members of the food industry surmise that "a thriving regional alliance of farmers, wholesalers and customers" is on the horizon. What this would look like is decentralized, sustainable operations that are both more resilient and adaptable to future changes, be they from a virus or climate change. Read more at National Geographic

 

Union sues to block Trump waivers for faster poultry-line speeds

A food workers' union filed a federal lawsuit this week to block Trump administration waivers that allow poultry plant production lines to move at a faster speed. The suit argues that not only did USDA violate administrative rules when it issued the waivers, but also that faster speeds equal more risk of injury for plant workers that are already at a far higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Read more at Bloomberg

 

‘It's insane’: Millions of kids could lose access to free meals if this program expires

Thus far, the Trump administration has no plans to extend a free meal program that has allowed most families over the past few months to pick up free meals at conveniently located schools without showing proof of low-income status. The School Nutrition Association asked USDA earlier this month to give schools the ability to maintain this flexibility until the crisis subsides, because the process of figuring out which kids are eligible for free food will undoubtedly cause some children to fall through the cracks. Read more at Politico