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Government shutdown could impact school lunch programs, SCASD starts program to help

The longer the shutdown goes, the more federal programs are affected. One program that could soon be hurt is the school lunch program. (WJAC)

STATE COLLEGE – As the country waits for lawmakers to open the government again, many people say they are worried that they won't be able to feed their families.

The partial government shutdown has impacted everything from national parks to local farmers and even food stamps.

If the government isn't open before February, millions of people could see more problems.

Tuesday marks day 18 of the government shutdown and there’s no clear end in sight after President Donald Trump's address to the nation.

"The federal government remains shut down, for one reason and one reason only -- because Democrats will not fund border security," Trump said.

The longer it goes, the more federal programs are affected. One program that could soon be hurt is the school lunch program.

"What we heard from the USDA is that we are funded at least into February," SCASD Food Service Director Megan Schaper said.

The State College Area School District has more than 1,100 students who are in child nutrition programs. Those programs include the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program, Summer Food Service and the Special Milk Program, which cover school lunches, breakfasts and more.

The district received a statement from the School Nutrition Association ensuring “school aid programs will continue into February as meal providers are paid on a reimbursement basis.”

"The way the program works anyway, is we feed children and then we submit to the federal government for reimbursement and several weeks,” Schaper said. “Months later, we're sent the money to pay for those meals. So, we kind of always lagging behind with the funding from the federal government."

According to their voicemail and website, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will not be updated or maintained while the lapse in federal funding continues, and they encourage members to use their state agency and SNA as a resource during this time.

School officials say even if there is a lapse, they will continue to serve students lunch. In light of the situation, the district will also open applications for families who are in an unexpected bind during this shutdown.

"They may be able to get help with school lunch and school breakfast, which would help a little bit as they're trying to keep a balanced budget through this shutdown," Schaper said.

If you need assistance -- or know someone who needs help -- you're asked to contact your school district's food service director for more information. Parents in the State College Area School District can click this link for contact information: https://www.scasd.org/Page/17023.

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