School lunches in no danger, say nutrition leaders - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

School lunches in no danger, say nutrition leaders

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Source: MGN Online Source: MGN Online

School lunch programs look to be in the clear, despite a wave of uncertainty for several federally funded food programs.

In Huntsville, 53% of the students receive free or reduced-price lunch. In Madison City Schools that figure is 20 percent. If the program had not been funded, districts would have had to come up with another way to feed the children. But it doesn't seem as if that will be an issue.

While federally funded agencies wait for answers two days into the government shutdown, it looks like good news for school lunch programs.

"Right now they are indicating that our program is fully intact, our funding will not be affected, and that we should suffer no negative effects from the shutdown," said Marty Tatara with Madison City Schools.

At first, things were not as clear. A letter from the state simply said school lunch would continue through Oct. for certain, and once appropriations are approved, funds should be safe for the balance of the year. On top of that, child nutrition program directors were having trouble obtaining information from the USDA website.

"It makes me feel very uncomfortable because I am concerned parents are going to call and ask questions that I can't answer," said Huntsville City Schools leader Joey Vaughn.

Wednesday, however, program directors were able to get some answers. Tatara spoke with the state's child nutrition director.

"Our funding is procured all the way through the end of the fiscal year, so we are good to go. There should be no problem. We don't anticipate changing the program at all. We are going to keep feeding children and doing all the things we do every day," said Tatara.

The news comes as a relief to child nutrition directors who were thinking they might have to resort to using reserve funds to keep their programs going.

While nothing is guaranteed in a situation like this, the state child nutrition program feels confident nothing will change, because at this point funding for school lunches does not depend on an act of Congress.

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