US schools now fear running out of food as a partial government shutdown enters day 31
- American schools are worried about the future of children's lunches if the government shutdown continues.
- At least one school district has already reduced children's lunches, removing bottled water and juice, and reducing the fruit and vegetables they give children in a bid to "conserve food and funding."
- Other school districts said they are concerned about the future, with no clear end to the shutdown in sight.
- "It's so frustrating and saddening. We just want to be able to feed kids," the food director of a school district in Kansas said.
American schools are worried about feeding children school lunches as the record partial US government shutdown continues, with at least one school district already reducing children's lunches as it fears running out of food.
This was necessary to "conserve food and funding" due to the shutdown, now in a record 31st day, it said in a Facebook post.
"Starting the week of January 21, minimum level means: one main dish, bread, two vegetables, one fruit and milk," it said.
"No fresh produce will be included, except at elementary schools as part of the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program," referring to a federally-assisted program that gives free fresh fruit and vegetables to primary schools.
"This program will be decreased to two days each week."
"No bottled drinks (water and juice) will be available after the current inventory in stock is used. No ice cream will be available," the school system added.
"We hope that normal lunch menus can be resumed as soon as possible once the shutdown has ended."
US department of agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue tweeted on Friday that "child nutrition programs are funded quarterly and are fully funded through the end of March."
But with US President Donald Trump claiming that the shutdown could go on for "months or even years," school districts across the country say they are worried about feeding children into the future.
Here's what they are saying:
- The federal Child Nutrition program "may be in danger if the government shutdown continues," the Bethel School District in Washington state said.
- New York's Newburgh Enlarged City school district is prioritising making sure that children get fruit and vegetables, and said it may have to avoid purchasing other equipment to achieve this.
- Kansas' Prairie Hills school district does not know how it will feed children if the shutdown continues past March, its food service director said.
- "I really don't know how we'll be able to continue feeding them without the meal reimbursements we get from the federal government, and I don't know many other school food programs that would be able to either," Brook Brubeck told Politico. "It's so frustrating and saddening. We just want to be able to feed kids."
- Tennessee's Dyersburg City school district said it would "keep feeding kids" and they would not "see a difference" because it has enough funds in its own budget to make it to the end of the year if necessary.
- The Edenton-Chowan, Currituck County, and Camden school districts in North Carolina said they were not feeling any immediate impact from the shutdown and had not changed their menus for children, though Camden said it would watch the shutdown "closely."
The Child Nutrition Programs funded by the US agriculture department include the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Special Milk Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
29.7 million pupils participate in the National School Lunch Program, and 22 million were signed up for free or reduced-price meals as of December, according to federal statistics cited by Politico.
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