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Local Free, Reduced Lunch Program Funding Solid For Now

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By Jay Michaels and Michelle Bartlome

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) Many locals are concerned about the effects of the federal goverment shutdown, including what will happen with the free and reduced priced lunch programs at school.

The worry is that these programs might go away. Many parents are simply trying to make ends meet. They're incredibly thankful to get a break on their children's' school lunches.

Shaily Gardner's son receives breakfast and lunch at school for free. That's because her family's income qualifies them for the program.

Gardner says, "Because I am a single mom, and I babysit kids to bring money into the household, so it saves for lunch."

Almost two-thirds of the 600 kindergarteners through fifth graders at Morningside Elementary qualify for the free or reduced lunch program. But, not to worry.

Idaho State Board of Education officials explain that the government shutdown won't affect the program. Most of the funding comes from the state, instead of the federal government.

The US Department of Agriculture has mentioned additional funding is currently available, and it's sufficient to support program activities for several months in Fiscal Year 2014, which we're in right now.

The USDA will also pay for school meals served before September 30th. But the Board of Education doesn't know how USDA programs will be affected if the shutdown extends past October. In the meantime, lunch programs like this one will keep feeding hungry students.

Morningside Elementary School Vice-Principal Michelle Brewer says, "The programs are intact, and will stay stable and strong, to our knowledge. We have no information at all as to whether the program will stay or be gone."

Staying around for families like the Gardners.

If you have questions about whether your family qualifies for free or reduced school lunches, contact your local school district.

October 14, 2013.


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