Schools voice concern over school lunch program funding

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Updated: Fri, 11 Oct 2013 06:09:34 CST

We're learning new impacts of the government shutdown every day.

Nebraska's Schools are learning their lunch programs are at risk.

For two hours every school day, the lunch trays don't stop moving at Howard Elementary in Grand Island.

Every day they basically exhaust their food supply.

A vast majority of these students qualify for the federally funded program, free and reduced lunch.

"We have students who have minimal food at home and they do depend on the food that we provide at Howard Elementary." Said Julie Schnitzel, Principal of Howard Elementary.

The district got word from the Nebraska Department of Education on Thursday that,"Nutrition Services currently does not have sufficient resources to fund reimbursement for claims for any meals served in October; and, future months should the Government shutdown continue beyond the month of October."

"The plan is to go ahead and make sure that no kid goes unfed. So business will be as usual for the students of Grand Island Public Schools." Said Executive Director of Business for GIPS, Virgil Harden.

About 70% of Grand Island Public Schools students have free and reduced lunch. So to lose funding is an issue that administrators say shouldn't be taken lightly.

Grand Island Public Schools will have to dip into its cash reserve funds if the shutdown doesn't end soon. That's about $400,000 to cover the cost of food this month alone.

"They're in a good financial position to weather a short term storm so to speak. On a long term basis this is a game changer." Said Harden.

The district has enough funds to last two months, but, they're hoping Congress resolves the shutdown before that time comes.

"It's a about the kids. If we don't have food for them it's going to be a detriment and it's going to make a huge impact in the classrooms, not just in academics but in their behaviors in the classroom. We're going to feel it." Said Schnitzler.

The USDA has said that schools will be reimbursed once the shutdown ends.