USDA Distributes $ 1.5 Billion To Boost School Lunch Program | News

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the Biden-Harris administration will provide up to $ 1.5 billion to states and school districts to help school meal program operators meet the challenges of supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic.

With funding made available through the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation, USDA will provide schools with $ 1 billion to purchase food for their meal programs and an additional $ 300 million to states to purchase food. food to distribute to schools. An additional $ 200 million will be used for cooperative agreements to purchase local food for schools, with an emphasis on purchasing from historically underserved producers. A state-by-state breakdown of funds can be found in a table at fns.usda.gov/cn/supply-chain-assistance-for-schools.

“USDA’s school meal programs have a tremendous impact on the health and well-being of children in our country,” said Vilsack. “Now, more than ever, American children need access to safe, nutritious food and our school nutrition professionals play a huge role in making that happen.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, school districts have faced extraordinary challenges in ensuring that every child has the food they need to learn, grow and thrive, a statement from the Vilsack office said.

“The food and funds that USDA is distributing will help ensure that schools have the resources they need to continue serving our nation’s school children with quality food they can count on, while building a stronger food system. strong, fairer and more competitive, “the statement read.

Supply Chain Assistance Fund

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service provides $ 1 billion to states in cash payments – known as the Supply Chain Assistance Fund – that school districts can use to purchase food for their school meal programs. These funds directly alleviate persistent supply chain problems and improve the quality and consistency of school meals for children in communities facing disruption, making it easier for schools to manage successful meal programs.

In total, supply chain assistance funds are expected to increase the resources of up to 100,000 schools in all 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico, Guam and the US Virgin Islands, including public, tribal, chartered and private not-for-profit schools. as well as residential childcare institutions.

Supply Chain Assistance funding can be used by school districts to purchase national unprocessed and minimally processed foods such as fresh fruit, milk, cheese, frozen vegetables and ground meat.

Local food for schools

As part of the Agricultural Marketing Service’s new Local Food for Schools Cooperation Agreement program, USDA will allocate up to $ 200 million to states for the purchase of local foods for use in the community. distribution in schools.

“This program will strengthen the school food system by helping to build a fair, competitive and resilient local food chain and expanding local and regional markets with an emphasis on purchasing from historically underserved producers and processors,” indicates the press release.

USDA Food Purchases

The USDA will also purchase approximately $ 300 million worth of 100% domestically grown and manufactured food items, known as USDA Foods, which states will distribute to schools to offset the impact of disruptions to their supply chains. normal supply. By conducting market research and working with qualified USDA suppliers large and small, USDA has identified a long list of available products. States will be able to order these additional foods in the coming weeks, with deliveries expected to take place as soon as possible.

To learn more, visit usda.gov.

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