USDA to fund school meal programs through March

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NEW HARTFORD, Iowa (KWWL) – As the partial government shutdown continues, questions over federal funding remain.

While some government programs have shut down, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has enough funding to support school meal programs through March, according to the Iowa Department of Education.

Parents across the state can rest assured. Students will not go hungry.

KWWL sat down with Dike-New Hartford school district leaders. They said right now, everything is business as usual.

Each day, hundreds of students file through the district’s two cafeterias for lunch.

“We feed about 800 a day roughly,” the district’s food services director, Angie Callan said.

Schools across Iowa depend on federal dollars from the USDA to run their meal programs.

“Any time there’s concern we can’t feed the kids, your first thought is, ‘Okay, what are we gonna need to do?'” she said.

The USDA reimburses school districts for a portion of each meal.

“At the end of every month, we turn in a report that says how many students ate,” Callan explained. “They cut us a check depending how many ate. We get so much per student for each meal, and then they send us that.”

Dike-New Hartford school district gets 37 cents for each paid lunch, $2.97 for each reduced price lunch, and $3.37 for each free lunch.

The district will continue to be reimbursed despite the shutdown.

“To know we don’t need to worry about [funding] at all, makes it a lot easier to do my job,” Callan said.

If the shutdown continues past March, Superintendent Justin Stockdale said the district has a plan.

“If we get deeper into the spring, and there’s no end in sight, then I think we need to get creative and start having some conversations,” he said.

Stockdale told KWWL the district is prepared to dip into other funds, if necessary.

The USDA also announced SNAP benefits will be provided through February.

Olivia Schmitt

Olivia Schmitt

Morning Reporter at KWWL
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