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Government shutdown: Schools worry over lunches, GDP fall expected

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Schools are worried about feeding children school lunches as the record partial government shutdown continues, with at least one school district already reducing children’s lunches as it fears running out of food.

From this week, North Carolina’s Vance County school system is reducing school lunches to a “minimum level,” no longer offering children bottled water and juice, and cutting the amount of fruit and vegetables it gives to its students.

This was necessary to “conserve food and funding” due to the shutdown, now in a record 31st day, it said in a Facebook post.

The partial government shutdown is in its 31st day. A protester in New York demanding an end to the shutdown on January 15.
Xinhua/Wang Ying via Getty Images

“Starting the week of January 21, minimum level means: one main dish, bread, two vegetables, one fruit and milk,” it said.

“No fresh produce will be included, except at elementary schools as part of the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program,” referring to the federally-assisted program that gives free fresh fruit and vegetables to elementary schools. “This program will be decreased to two days each week.”

“No bottled drinks (water and juice) will be available after the current inventory in stock is used. No ice cream will be available,” the school system added.

A school system in North Carolina has started cutting fresh fruit and vegetables, water, and juice due to the shutdown. Here, a high school lunch.
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue tweeted on Friday that “child nutrition programs are funded quarterly and are fully funded through the end of March.”

But with President Donald Trump claiming that the shutdown could go on for “months or even years,” school districts across the country say they are worried about feeding children into the future.

Here’s what they are saying:

  • The federal Child Nutrition program “may be in danger if the government shutdown continues,” the Bethel School District in Washington state said.
  • New York’s Newburgh Enlarged City school district is prioritizing making sure that children get fruit and vegetables, and said it may have to avoid purchasing other equipment to achieve this.
  • Kansas’ Prairie Hills school district does not know how it will feed children if the shutdown continues past March, its food service director said.
  • “I really don’t know how we’ll be able to continue feeding them without the meal reimbursements we get from the federal government, and I don’t know many other school food programs that would be able to either,” Brook Brubeck told Politico. “It’s so frustrating and saddening. We just want to be able to feed kids.”
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is making plans to keep school cafeterias open if the shutdown continues, saying that food for children is “the number one thing we’re going to try to address” during the shutdown.
  • Tennessee’s Dyersburg City school district said it would “keep feeding kids” and they would not “see a difference” because it has enough funds in its own budget to make it to the end of the year if necessary.
  • The Edenton-Chowan, Currituck County, and Camden school districts in North Carolina said they were not feeling any immediate impact from the shutdown and had not changed their menus for children, though Camden said it would watch the shutdown “closely.”

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue (left) and Trump. Perdue said on Friday that child nutrition programs are fully funded through the end of March. School districts are worried about feeding children after that.
Getty Images

The Child Nutrition Programs funded by the Agriculture Department include the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Special Milk Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

29.7 million students participate in the National School Lunch Program, and 22 million were signed up for free or reduced-price meals as of December, according to federal statistics cited by Politico.

Schools are also telling parents that more and more children are qualifying for the programs as federal employees are furloughed and not receiving any paychecks.

Read more:Trump offered Democrats a limited immigration ‘compromise’ to end the shutdown. Democrats say it’s a ‘hostage taking.’

President Donald Trump, here at the White House on Saturday, said the shutdown could go on for “months or even years.”
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

A White House official told INSIDER last week that the administration expects the shutdown to deduct 0.13 percentage points from quarterly economic growth for every week that the government is closed.

This estimate for how much the shutdown is expected to damage the economy is more than double what the White House originally thought.

The White House’s original estimate did not take into account the knock-on effects of government contractors not getting paid, and instead only looked at the lost productivity from workers directly employed by the federal government.

The federal shutdown is damaging the US economy. Here, federal air traffic controller union members protest in Washington, DC, on January 10.
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

An ongoing impasse with Democrats, secret service agents struggle without pay, and national parks suffer: Other effects of the shutdown

  • Trump’s fight with Congressional Democrats continued as Trump tore into Nancy Pelosi after Democrats rejected his proposed shutdown solution, where he offered Democrats a deal combining temporary protection for so-called “Dreamers” and other immigration proposals in exchange for funding for his border wall.
  • Secret Service agents are struggling with no pay, and some say the financial worries could affect performance on the job.
  • National parks are suffering as they face piles of trash and damaged trees.
  • Cybersecurity experts say the shutdown is putting the US is at greater risk of attack. A Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency spokesperson told Business Insider that the agency had ceased some “critical” protection operations.
  • The White House canceled the US delegation’s annual trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, “out of consideration” for the furloughed federal employees.
  • An INSIDER poll found that most Americans would rather use the $5 billion Trump is demanding for the wall on other things, like education or healthcare.

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