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Impact of the Federal Government Shutdown on School Breakfast and Lunch Programs

Federal child nutrition programs are designed to ensure that low income students receive nutritious meals and snacks during the school day. There are more than 31 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program and more than 11 million participating in the School Breakfast Program. These programs play an essential role in ensuring that children have the fuel they need to learn. As the federal government shutdown continues into its third week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently notified states that sufficient resources are available to support federal nutrition programs, including the school lunch and breakfast programs, for the next several months. USDA explained that “this funding is provided through a permanent appropriation supporting the Child Nutrition programs, and its availability to support Child Nutrition program obligations does not depend on further action by Congress.” In addition, USDA told states they may use funding leftover from fiscal year 2013 (known as “carryover funds”) to cover the costs of free- and reduced-priced meals for students. USDA’s guidance to states is available here. Pamela Davidson is the senior director of government relations at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. image1