UNION COUNTY — Even if the shutdown of the federal government continues beyond October the Union County School District will still be able to serve meals to its students according to Food Services Director Susan Thompson.
On Wednesday, Gov. Nikki Haley’s office released a list of federal offices, programs, and services it had determined will remain in operation for the time being despite the shutdown of the federal government. Among the sectors covered by the list was agriculture which included the school lunch program. The list stated that the program is expected to run through October with existing funds.
When contacted about the shutdown’s impact on the school district’s breakfast, lunch, and after school snack programs, Thompson said it would not prevent the school from serving meals to its students. Thompson said she’d received a letter from Cynthia Long, director of the Child Nutrition Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, stating that funding for the USDA’s Child Nutrition Programs will continue into October despite the shutdown. Even if the shutdown continues beyond October and the USDA runs out of funds for those programs, Thompson said the school district food service department has its own resources to fall back on and continue serving the meals.
“We would not stop serving meals,” Thompson said. “We have a reserve fund which would carry us beyond October. The reserve funds will enable us to continue serving the children.”
Long’s letter addresses the impact of the shutdown, stating that “due to a lapse in appropriations” for the USDA’s Food Nutrition Service, the service is shutting down nonessential operations and furloughing personnel who will be unable to carry out the work of the agency until Congress restores funding. The letter states this will impact the USDA’s Child Nutrition Programs including the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program.
The letter further states that “meal providers are paid on a reimbursement basis 30 days after the end of the service month.” The funds allocated for fiscal 2013 will “continue to be available to pay reimbursement claims for all Child Nutrition Meals served in FY 2013. This means school food authorities and other program operators would receive reimbursement for meals served prior to Oct. 1. 2013.”
Thompson said this applies to the school district which she said serves an average of 3,600 meals a day including breakfast, lunch, and after school snack. She said the district will be reimbursed for the meals its served in September because those funds have already been allocated.
In addition, Thompson said Long states that even with the shutdown the USDA has some funds available which it can use to continue supporting the Child Nutrition Programs.
“Limited carryover funding will be available during a lapse to support FY 2014 meal service,” Long states. “Once an appropriation is enacted, we expect additional resources will be available to reimburse October performance.”
For more information about the school district’s food services programs contact Susan Thompson at 864-429-1748, ext 717.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.