The federal government shutdown has been going on for about a month, and it’s starting to be felt in the school lunch line. An article in Politico last week highlighted the challenges of schools struggling to keep up the same level of service in the face of the shutdown.
In a rural county in North Carolina, a district has been unable to keep serving fresh fruits and vegetables. In New York City, the government provides $43 million each month for school meals; Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city has money to fund school meals only until April.
Although the USDA announced a plan to continue funding nutrition programs through February, the only way to guarantee ongoing, uninterrupted funding for the National School Lunch Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and other USDA nutrition programs is to reopen the government immediately.
Tens of millions of Americans rely on those programs to feed their families. As the shutdown continues, benefits from these and other programs are increasingly at risk. The lapse in funding endangers the nutrition and food security of both children and adults, ultimately threatening their long-term health, development and wellbeing.
We joined other organizations and signed on to a letter that was sent to President Trump and Congress. This letter urged them to reopen the government to make sure these essential benefits are guaranteed. We will continue to raise awareness of this issue and make sure children get the healthy school food they need and deserve.