School breakfast, lunch to be funded 'well into March,’ USDA says


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SALT LAKE CITY — The partial federal shutdown may be ongoing, but federal support of school breakfast and lunch is available "well into March," according to a new advisory from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The advisory by Cynthia Long, deputy administrator of Child Nutrition Programs, acknowledges the "uncertainty that these circumstances present" for Food and Nutrition Service customers and partners nationwide.

"To address such concerns and ensure that programs can continue to operate without threat of disruption, (Food and Nutrition Service) has provided state agencies with additional available appropriated funding. These funds, along with those previously provided, can support program operations at normal levels well into the month of March," the letter states.

In the 2017-18 school year, more than 54 million lunches and more than 14 million breakfasts were served in Utah schools, according to the latest annual report on the Utah State Board of Education website.

Total federal support for school breakfast, lunch and the after-school snack program was about $120.1 million during the 2017-18 school year. Utah's school lunch program is also supported by $41.7 million in state liquor tax.

Federal Food and Nutrition Service staff "continue to be furloughed pending reinstatement of funding by Congress and will not be available by phone or email. They cannot carry out normal work functions until funding is restored," the letter says.

Meantime, state agencies are expected to administer child nutrition programs in accordance with federal statute and regulation, the letter states.

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Marjorie Cortez


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