New Hampshire accepts $2.8M federal school lunch grant

New Hampshire accepts $2.8M federal school lunch grant

March 28, 2022 0 By Christian Wade

New Hampshire schools will be getting $2.8 million in federal assistance to help address lingering supply chain issues in the state’s school lunch programs.

On Wednesday, the Executive Council unanimously voted to approve a plan accepting the federal funding, which is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under a program aimed at shoring up school cafeterias amid supply chain issues.

Overall, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is distributing $1 billion to states under the new program. The agency released guidance in December, saying the funds can be used to buy “unprocessed or minimally processed domestic food products” to help deal with “unpredictable increases in food and supply prices” and other supply chain-related issues.

“Throughout the pandemic, school food professionals have met extraordinary challenges to ensure every child can get the food they need to learn, grow and thrive,” the agency said. “But circumstances in local communities remain unpredictable, and supply chains for food and labor have been stressed and at times disrupted.”

New Hampshire’s school cafeterias have struggled to keep meat, dairy products and other staples in stock, with some schools not knowing what to expect for weekly deliveries.

The shortages also mean some schools are not able to meet the stringent standards required under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The law, championed by former first lady Michelle Obama, set nutritional requirements for meals served in schools that get federal funding. The rules limit calories in each serving, and even dictate what kind of milk is served.

The USDA, which oversees school food programs, has offered waivers to school districts during the pandemic to provide flexibility on some nutritional requirements.

New Hampshire schools have also benefited from USDA waivers that provide universal free lunches, lifting a requirement for low-income families to apply for the free and reduced-priced lunches.

Those waivers are expected to expire June 30, and state lawmakers are considering joining a federal pilot program that would link families on Medicaid to the free-and-reduced lunch program in public schools.

Under the pilot program, the USDA would automatically enroll students whose families are receiving Medicaid services in the free lunch program.

This article was originally posted on New Hampshire accepts $2.8M federal school lunch grant