New Hampshire’s Executive Council voted unanimously to accept $2.8 million in federal assistance to address supply chain issues.
The state’s executive body voted on March 23 to accept the funding from the United States Department of Agriculture.
Schools in the New England state have experienced shortages of meat, dairy products, and other staple foods, per The Center Square.
The funding is part of the $1 billion the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services is sending to states to help with supply-chain issues and increased prices or to buy unprocessed or minimally processed domestic food products. The funding will go to schools’ meal programs and states will receive an additional $300 million to purchase foods.
“In total, the Supply Chain Assistance Funds are expected to provide a boost in resources for up to 100,000 schools across all 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including public, tribal, charter schools, and nonprofit private schools as well as residential child care institutions,” the USDA said in its announcement.
“Throughout the pandemic, school food professionals have met extraordinary challenges to ensure every child can get the food they need to learn, grow and thrive,” the agency said in a statement in December. “But circumstances in local communities remain unpredictable, and supply chains for food and labor have been stressed and at times disrupted.”
The agency is using another $200 million to establish cooperative agreements to provide schools with local food and buy from “historically underserved producers.”
New Hampshire’s new program will provide $5,000 in base funding to each of the state’s 90 school districts. The remaining money will be distributed by the National School Lunch Program and the National School Breakfast Program.
Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut told the New Hampshire Bulletin the distribution will be based “on the level of participation in each school district in those programs.”
Edelblut said the funding gives schools the opportunity to recoup the expense spent on the unpredicted challenge.
“That could range from you know: ‘We’re not able to order as far in advance and so we have to expedite stuff in, so maybe it’s costing us a little bit more,’” Edelblut said in an interview after the Executive Council vote. “It could be a particular vendor doesn’t have the type of lettuce or vegetable that we normally use and we have to go to another vendor and it’s more expensive. We all know that there’s been inflation in the process as well. So it’s just to help the schools kind of cope with all of that.”