Education Funding

More Federal Aid Is Coming for Schools Struggling to Buy Food Due to Supply-Chain Crisis

By Arianna Prothero — December 20, 2021 2 min read
Stacked Red Cafeteria trays in a nearly empty lunch room.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

For schools struggling to purchase food amid shortages and price increases caused by ongoing disruptions to the global supply chain, more relief from the federal government is on its way.

This is the second infusion of cash announced in the last couple of months to help school meal programs weather ongoing supply chain problems that are causing shortages in a range of industries and affecting almost all areas of school operations.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing $1.5 billion to states and school districts to purchase food for their school meal programs while also investing in local and domestic food producers.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, school districts have met extraordinary challenges to ensure that every child has the food needed to learn, grow and thrive,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vislack, in a statement announcing the plan. “The food and funds USDA is distributing will help ensure schools have the resources they need to continue to serve our nation’s school children quality food they can depend on, all while building a stronger, fairer, and more competitive food system.”

States and school districts will receive $1 billion to purchase food for their school meal programs. States can choose to use 10 percent of these Supply Chain Assistant Funds to buy food in bulk from local producers, with the aim of bolstering local food supply chains. The USDA will award an additional $200 million to states to purchase locally produced food from “historically underserved producers and processors” to distribute to schools, while the USDA will purchase $300 million in domestically grown food to supply to states and schools.

The School Nutrition Association said the funds will help schools manage higher costs and provide students with more American-grown food.

“School meal programs are paying much higher prices in the scramble to place additional orders and find new vendors when their deliveries are shorted, cancelled or delayed,” said Lori Adkins, the SNA’s president-elect, in a statement.

See also

Shipping containers are stacked at the Port of Philadelphia, Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021.
Supplies for many school needs are stuck in shipping containers in places like the Port of Philadelphia.
Matt Rourke/AP

In September, the USDA also committed $1.5 billion to school meal programs with the goal of not only providing relief to overstretched food programs but also to boost local food supply chains.

The USDA has taken other measures to help schools as the pandemic has upended normal school meal operations and disrupted the global supply chain, including relaxing federal regulations around what foods schools must serve.

The federal government also expanded eligibility for free school meals to all students, regardless of income, during the pandemic through the end of the 2021-22 school year. While organizations like the SNA and the national teachers’ unions consider that a highly positive development for students and schools, it has increased pressure on school meal programs at the same time that supply chain disruptions are causing shortages and price increases.

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Reframing Behavior: Neuroscience-Based Practices for Positive Support
Reframing Behavior helps teachers see the “why” of behavior through a neuroscience lens and provides practices that fit into a school day.
Content provided by Crisis Prevention Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Math for All: Strategies for Inclusive Instruction and Student Success
Looking for ways to make math matter for all your students? Gain strategies that help them make the connection as well as the grade.
Content provided by NMSI

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding Explainer How Can Districts Get More Time to Spend ESSER Dollars? An Explainer
Districts can get up to 14 additional months to spend ESSER dollars on contracts—if their state and the federal government both approve.
4 min read
Illustration of woman turning back hands on clock.
Education Week + iStock / Getty Images Plus Week
Education Funding Education Dept. Sees Small Cut in Funding Package That Averted Government Shutdown
The Education Department will see a reduction even as the funding package provides for small increases to key K-12 programs.
3 min read
President Joe Biden delivers a speech about healthcare at an event in Raleigh, N.C., on March 26, 2024.
President Joe Biden delivers a speech about health care at an event in Raleigh, N.C., on March 26. Biden signed a funding package into law over the weekend that keeps the federal government open through September but includes a slight decrease in the Education Department's budget.
Matt Kelley/AP
Education Funding Biden's Budget Proposes Smaller Bump to Education Spending
The president requested increases to Title I and IDEA, and funding to expand preschool access in his 2025 budget proposal.
7 min read
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on lowering prices for American families during an event at the YMCA Allard Center on March 11, 2024, in Goffstown, N.H.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on lowering prices for American families during an event at the YMCA Allard Center on March 11, 2024, in Goffstown, N.H. Biden's administration released its 2025 budget proposal, which includes a modest spending increase for the Education Department.
Evan Vucci/AP
Education Funding States Are Pulling Back on K-12 Spending. How Hard Will Schools Get Hit?
Some states are trimming education investments as financial forecasts suggest boom times may be over.
6 min read
Collage illustration of California state house and U.S. currency background.
F. Sheehan for Education Week / Getty