School lunch program unaffected by government shutdown

By Annika Prom

The Edmonds School District (ESD) will continue providing meals for students while the federal government is shut down.

As a result of the shutdown, some federal workers have been furloughed, meaning they are required to work without pay.

Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) accounting specialist Dee Moran said funding for the school meals program is “completely secured through March.” According to Moran, the federal government makes quarterly payments to FNS upfront to reimburse the department for the number of meals it serves to students.

“[A government shutdown] wouldn’t affect the students at all because we’re always going to feed the students,” Moran said. “For this to impact us, it would have to go on until after April, because we’ve been funded through March and we get paid one month in the rears. So in April, we’re going to be paid March’s reimbursable meal amount.”

If the furlough does not end by April, then FNS can access its funds to support the program.

“We’re also lucky that we would have funding and we have a cushion of money that our department could spend just to fall back on,” she said. “If need be after that, we would need to get funding from the [ESD].”

Moran wanted to clarify that a furlough does not mean “the government is out of money.” In this case, it means that there is “nobody there to cut the checks” for meal reimbursement.

For students who may be affected by the furlough, Moran encourages them to reach out and complete a free and reduced lunch application. Students may qualify based on household income or if they specify on the application that they have a furloughed parent.

“You’re not alone. Don’t feel at all intrepid about reaching out and filling out a [free and reduced lunch] application,” Moran said. “Kids are always going to be fed, regardless of if their parents are working or not.”