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School lunches hit by federal funding

Published: Mar. 15, 2022 at 6:39 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) -During the height of the COVID pandemic, the USDA child nutrition program provided free lunches to students in public schools across the country. But in their 20-22 budget, congress decided to remove funding for the program.

Katy Urban, Communications Coordinator for the Douglas school district says cutting the nutrition program could impact their bottom line

She states “We believe that the number of meals that we serve is going to decrease pretty significantly. We saw our number increase quite a bit once they made the meals free so, we serve about 1800 now for free, and before this was in place, we served between 13 to 1400, so it is a pretty dramatic increase.”

According to US News & World Report, the federal reimbursement rate for school meals is dropping. Meals went from $3.60 per lunch and then rose to $4.25. However, the new rate reportedly is going to be $2.91.

Greg Seefeldt, Douglas middle school principal, says not having three square meals can adversely affect a child’s ability to learn.

He states “We know that when the students come in, they are hungry, we can get them food and that takes away that worry...that takes them off of their studies for the day.”

Despite losing a portion of funding for school lunches, Urban says they will continue to support students and their families.

Urban states “We do have an angel program that people can donate to and so we have some money aside for kids that need to eat. We know we have students who live in poverty who are hungry and have tough lives and truly depend on the school system for meals. We will continue to do what we can to make sure that the kids that are eligible for reduced lunch are identified and so they are getting those meals

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