Investments will provide immediate assistance to help schools respond to supply chain disruptions.
Sept. 30, 2021, Washington, D.C. — Yesterday the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a comprehensive package to address a variety of agricultural issues, including $1.5 billion to address the urgent needs in our school food system, supply chain vulnerabilities, and other needs that have arisen as a result of COVID-19.
FoodCorps applauds USDA for these investments, which will bring much needed relief to communities where supply chains for food and labor have been stressed and at times disrupted in response to the pandemic. These funds can be used to support schools in purchasing the foods they need, such as the purchase of agricultural commodities, to ensure students have reliable access to healthy meals this year.
FoodCorps and its network of district, school nutrition, and advocacy partners agree: our schools and their school nutrition staff cannot keep operating at peak pandemic levels without additional support and funding. According to FoodCorps’ new report, Nourishing Learners, when schools remained closed during the 2020-21 school year, school cafeterias remained open to ensure kids were getting daily nourishment, and school nutrition leaders worked around the clock to find innovative ways to deliver food to families who needed it. Fast forward to this year: free school meals are still in effect, school meal participation among students is at its highest, and school nutrition staff are asked to continue with the status quo, despite limited resources and budget, and increased restrictions.
We continue to urge Congress to pass its Build Back Better Act, which includes additional provisions for school food, so that schools and their nutrition staff will have more capacity to make healthy food an essential part of the school day through more healthy and scratched-cooked meals, updated kitchen equipment, and food education for all kids.