School meal programs could feel the effects of shutdown if government doesn’t reopen by March

Pinellas County

The government shutdown is impacting school districts across the country.

Some will have to cut back on free or reduced meal programs if the shutdown continues.

It’s been 33 days since the shutdown began.

It’s impacted dozens of workers across the Tampa Bay area.

Dozens of groups and businesses have stepped forward to help local families.

Pinellas County Schools is offering children of furloughed workers free lunch.

“Anytime a family in a household has had an income change they’re welcome to apply for for free and reduced meal application,” said Lynn Geist, Food Services Director.

Federal funds aid the free and reduced meal program, but if the shutdown continues, it could be in jeopardy and hurt millions of kids it serves.

Numerous districts across the country have already cut back on how they serve, fearing they’ll run out of food.

Geist said they’re fine through March.

“We are funded through March. That’s through USDA and I’m very confident it’ll continue being funded. But we are making plans. We haven’t put anything in place yet,” she said.

Hillsborough, Pasco and Sarasota County school officials said they’re also fully funded, but some may have to dip into their reserves.

Geist said they remain hopeful.

“We have a plan we’re working on just in case, but I really don’t anticipate having to implement anything,” she said.

“We would trim back our menu a little, but again, that’s a last resort.”

Geist said the county will wait to from the USDA before they make changes.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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