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Photo: Luis Antonio Rojas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is sending $1.5 billion to help schools struggling to serve students healthy lunches, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: School districts across the United States are experiencing food and supply shortages, price increases and delayed and canceled deliveries, among other setbacks, according to the School Nutrition Association.

Details: The new funding is part of a larger $3 billion investment plan that will addresses "drought, animal health, market disruptions for agricultural commodities, and school food supply chain issues," the USDA said in a statement.

  • The USDA will also earmark $500 million to provide relief from ongoing disruption to the agricultural market.

A School Nutrition Association survey of over 1,300 school meal program directors found that about 97% of respondents were concerned about continued supply chain disruptions.

What they're saying: "The coronavirus pandemic has impacted every stage of our food supply chain, from commodity production through processing and delivery," Vilsack said in a statement.

  • "Through this comprehensive set of investments, USDA will take action to ... assist producers grappling with drought and market disruptions, and help school nutrition professionals obtain nutritious food for students," he added.
  • "We're hearing from members that there is a rapid escalation in costs," School Nutrition Association director of media relations Diane Pratt-Heavner told CNN. "These extra funds will definitely help alleviate that budgetary pain point and hopefully give many districts more options to find alternative sources of food for kids."

Go deeper

Oct 17, 2021 - Health

Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, in an "Axios on HBO" interview, said he's reluctant to withhold federal funding from states that won't enforce school mask mandates because he doesn't want to hurt students.

Why it matters: Cardona's comments suggest there are limits to how far the Biden administration will go in pressuring states to adopt universal masking — or vaccine mandates.

John Frank, author of Denver
20 hours ago - Axios Denver

Meet the candidates: Denver school board at-large seat

From left to right, Marla Benavides, Jane Shirley, Scott Esserman, Nicky Yollick, Vernon Jones Jr. Photos courtesy of campaigns

The state's largest school district is holding elections in four of nine districts, our education reporting partner Chalkbeat writes.

Let's meet the at-large candidates in the order they will appear on Denver residents' ballots.

Parkland shooting victims' families settle suit with school district

A makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2020. Photo: Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Families and survivors of a 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., reached a $25 million settlement in their lawsuit against the Broward County school district Monday, per the South Florida SunSentinel.

Why it matters: The deal was reached in the suit over the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High after the school district won a Florida Supreme Court ruling that could have capped damages at $300,000 in total without approval from the state legislature, AP notes.

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