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USDA boosting school lunch

Federal investment helping alleviate supply chain challenges.
The USDA is putting $1.5 toward helping school lunch programs this school year.
The USDA is putting $1.5 toward helping school lunch programs this school year.(WVLT)
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 1:08 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON, DC (WVLT) - Throughout the pandemic, school nutrition professionals at districts across the country have been working hard to provide meals to students. While there have been many challenges in the last year and a half, the latest supply chain disruption to food and labor is causing even bigger problems in the lunchroom.

”Some schools are having trouble getting consistent deliveries of foods for example, and in some places, especially smaller places and rural schools, they’re losing out on their procurement contracts to larger buyers,” Cindy Long, Administrator of Food and Nutrition Service at the USDA. “So, this is all really challenging, and we’re just committed to continuing to engage with schools to help them work through these challenges and provide whatever tools and resources we can.”

The $1.5 billion funds will provide schools with resources to support the availability of food that includes two different options.

The first one is that the USDA buys food directly and works with states to distribute them to schools.

The second option is to provide money to schools to purchase food on their own.

The USDA also understands that due to the current situation certain requirements can’t be met, including serving food that meets all nutritional standards.

One way to help bridge the gap is allowing schools to reach out to local farmers and suppliers not normally utilized.

“It might not be the solution to the whole problem, but it may be if your regular distributor is struggling to get you fresh produce,” said Long. “There may be a producer in the community that can fill the gap. We’re strongly encouraging that and really trying to lift up the places and the stories where those kinds of things are happening, and everyone is banding together to make sure kids have consistent access to breakfast and lunches every day.”

The $1.5 billion is expected to make its way to schools sometime this winter.

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