Shutdown impacts lunch programs
The government shutdown, if it continues into November, could affect the reduced-and free-lunch program offered to students in school districts across Iowa.
At the Washington School Board meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 9, Washington Community School District (WCSD) Superintendent Dr. Mike Jorgensen told board members he was watching the government shutdown closely because of the reduced-and free-lunch program, which is funded by The United States Department of Agriculture.
Jorgensen told the board the district has funds to support the program through Oct. 31. If the government shutdown continues, the district would have to find another way to fund the program, Jorgensen said.
When asked where the funding would come from he said he wasn’t sure.
“That’s a good question,” Jorgensen said, “I didn’t anticipate the federal government shutdown going on as long as it has.”
Jorgensen doesn’t want parents to worry, because the district will still feed the students, even if funding isn’t available for the program.
Last spring 114 received reduced lunches and 637 students received free lunches, Jorgensen said. This makes the total number just under 50 percent districtwide. The numbers for this fall weren’t available.
Every school district in Iowa has to follow a claim process, Jorgensen said. Each month the district submits a claim to the USDA for the number of students who receive the reduced or free lunches. A reimbursement check is sent to the district about a month later, Jorgensen said.
In the worse case scenario, the reimbursement check would be delayed for November, Jorgensen said. The district has enough money to support the program for another month without a reimbursement check from the USDA. After that he isn’t sure.
“We’ll have to be creative as to what we’re going to do,” Jorgensen said.
The Iowa Department of Education oversees the reduced and free lunch program in the sate, according to its Web site. It is offered to parents based upon household size and income.
The Journal contacted Highland Community School District superintendent Chris Armstrong and the Keota and Mid-Prairie Community School District superintendent Mark Schneider for comment, but they were both unavailable.