Free school lunches could be impacted by government shutdown

Courtesy of the Associated Press
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- "Without funding students wouldn't be able to achieve the success their looking for," Steve Youngbauer, Director of Food and Nutrition at the Madison Metropolitan School District, said.

The National School Lunch Program provides 30 million children with free breakfast, lunch and dinner. The program is funded through the Department of Agriculture and was created in 1946. Since it was a pre-existing program it received priority when the shutdown began and the USDA was able to get funding until March.

Even with the extended funding, we asked the Madison Metropolitan School District, MMSD, if they had any concerns of the shutdown cutting into their funding. Youngbauer told us, "No matter what we would find a way to feed our kids."

On average 48 percent of students in MMSD are eligible for free or reduced-cost meals through the National School Lunch Program. Youngbauer said that the application for this program is open year round. Eligibility differs for each location, but Youngbauer says this is a "basic need."

One local elementary school within MMSD, Falk Elementary, receives 180 breakfast, 300 lunch and 95 dinner meals each school day. In 2018, Falk recorded that 72 percent of students qualify for these free meals through this program.

"I don't imagine it being an issue right now, but if it was then we would work with our budget staff to make sure we can still give all our kids a balanced meal," Youngbauer said.