The ongoing shutdown of the United States government will be coming to schools near you very soon. There are several programs that exist within the public education system that are either partially or wholly funded by the federal government. Among those programs is the largest, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) which provides nutritional meals for students throughout the country who are eligible for free and reduced meals.
The NSLP came into existence June 4, 1946. The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (79 P.L. 396, 60 Stat. 230) was passed and became a United States federal law. Initially the law was passed to provide low-cost or free lunch meals to qualified students through subsidies. The NSLP was established to help absorb farm surpluses and provide meals to school age children and named after Richard Russell, Jr. In 1946, it was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman.
The NSLP currently operates in more than 100,000 public schools, nonprofit private schools, and residential care institutions and provides more than 5 billion low-cost or free lunches per year to eligible students, with the goal of ensuring nutritious meals for children who might not otherwise have access to nutritional meals. Currently, the program serves more than 31 million children per day.
The government shutdown will of course deeply impact this program. It currently has only days left of funding and should be down to zero funding in the next couple of weeks. The loss of the subsidies will deeply impact the already fiscally strained school districts in California and throughout the country. No doubt that districts are busily trying to create a funding mechanism to continue the meals, however, it is uncertain when or if the school districts will be reimbursed after the shut down.
Other programs affected are Head start programs and roughly 14 million students who receive student aid, in the form of grants and loans, at over 6,600 schools through Pell Grants and Direct Student Loans. If a shutdown is prolonged, the payment of this money could be delayed because there won’t be enough people to process the payments. Federally funded portions of the education could also be affected such as appropriations for formula grants to States under Titles I and II of ESEA, IDEA Part B State Grants, and Career and Technical Education dollars.
The shutdown needs to end now. Congress has passed a bill to end the shut down, but the Senate has refused to bring the bill to the floor.
We need to make a call to the office of Mitch McConnell and demand the vote.
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2541
Fax: (202) 224-2499
For more information on the National Lunch Program click on the hyperlink below.
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