USDA to send $750 million to school meals to counter supply chain issues
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday that it would adjust federal reimbursement rates and send nearly $750 million into school meal programs across the U.S. to counter inflation and supply chain issues.
Why it matters: Schools across the country have been challenged by food and supply shortages, leaving them scrambling to place orders for substitute meals, according to a survey from the School Nutrition Association.
- "This adjustment is well-timed to ensure the purchasing power of schools keeps pace with the cost of living," the USDA said in a statement.
- "Schools receiving these reimbursement rates can stretch their operating budgets further during these tough times, while giving families fewer meal expenses to worry about each school day."
Details: The USDA said that schools will receive an additional 25 cents per lunch to counter higher food costs and as a way to adjust the reimbursement rate.
- Reimbursement rates don't usually increase during the academic year, but, due to the pandemic, the USDA allowed schools to benefit from the highest rates available. Schools are now receiving 22% more for school lunches than they would under normal conditions.
- In September, the USDA sent $1.5 billion to help schools struggling to serve students healthy lunches.
What they're saying: “USDA understands that balancing the pressures of the pandemic with the need to feed children healthy and nutritious meals continue to be a priority for schools across the country,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.
- "School nutrition professionals continue to ensure healthy meals are available for students, but perpetually difficult conditions have forced many last-minute menu changes and limited the number of choices in school cafeterias," said Beth Wallace, president of the School Nutrition Association, in a statement.