Funding for free meals for school children in Pima County would be at risk if the shutdown of the federal government continues.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is responsible for the free and reduced-price school lunch and breakfast programs nationwide. With the recent government shutdown, the department has stopped supporting its website and it is unknown whether it will reimburse schools for the meals.
“The meal programs will continue through October only because schools get paid on a 30-day prior-month basis, so the payments that are going out in October are for September,” said Ricky Hernandez, chief financial officer for the Pima County School Superintendent's Office.
If the government shut down continues into November, some schools will be unable to pay for the free meals, Hernandez said, while “others may have some cash in hand until federal money is available again to cover it,” Hernandez said.