School districts seek additional funding for nutrition programs
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Across the state of Kentucky, each day students receive nutritious meals and snacks in school because of the USDA’s child nutrition programs.
Over time, inflation has raised the cost of food, and now school districts are feeling the effects.
According to the United State Department of Agriculture, the school systems are the biggest buyers of food in every county in Kentucky.
In a few months, pandemic-era financial assistance for nutrition programs will end. With the rising food costs, school districts have needed the additional financial support.
“We are still dealing with supply chain issues and inflation costs,” Rebecca Lowry, Public Policy and Legislative Chair of the Kentucky School Nutrition Association said. “Just like everyone else out in the public when they go to the grocery store, we still have to deal with this when we are buying food for our kiddos in our school system.”
Lowry works as the Nutrition Director for Clark County Public Schools and the Public Policy and Legislative Chair of the Kentucky School Nutrition Association.
She said state and national representatives from their association were lobbying in Washington D.C. for more funding.
“Seventy-three cents per child every day is what we asked for,” Lowry said. “Every little bit helps, and it makes a difference.”
Lowry explained it costs less than a dollar to feed kids nationwide lunch and breakfast at school. They are hoping Congress implements policy changes.
One area school, Bullitt Central High, has turned to the community to help pay students’ cafeteria debt.
The United States Department of Agriculture is working on long-term solutions. Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles says what we are seeing in school districts points to a bigger issue statewide.
“Food insecurity rates in Kentucky continue to go up primarily due to the affordability of food right now caused by inflation,” Quarles said. “It’s not just being seen at our school systems where we have free and reduced lunch rates. It’s also a great issue about hunger across Kentucky.”
Right now, Lowry and Quarles are waiting to see what options congress brings to the table.
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