Shutdown resolution averts school lunch crisis
Friday’s resolution of the weekslong partial federal government shutdown has averted a crisis in an area long held to be a vulnerability in the public education system: the 22 million poor students who rely on the federal National School Lunch and breakfast programs for meals.
With federal employees returning to return to work and federal funds beginning to flow again, the programs are back on safe ground. But the shutdown drew attention to the uncomfortable duality of a meals program housed at public schools run by the Department of Education yet administered by the Department of Agriculture.
Federal K-12 programs were largely insulated from the shutdown because most of them are forward-funded, meaning dollars awarded each fiscal year are not tapped until the following school year. But Agriculture, which runs the National School Lunch Program and breakfast programs that cumulatively serve 30 million students, was at risk of running out of money.