SHUTDOWN DAY 31: Schools worry they won’t be able to feed kids; White House thinks GDP growth could fall another 0.13 points this week

Numerous school districts have warned that children’s lunches are at risk if the government shutdown continues. Tovin Lapan/Hechinger Report
  • Schools are worried about the future of children’s lunches if the government shutdown continues.
  • At least one school district is already planning to reduce children’s lunches, removing bottled water and juice and reducing the fruit and vegetables given to children in a bid to “conserve food and funding.”
  • Other school districts say they are concerned about the future, with no clear end to the shutdown in sight.
  • “It’s so frustrating and saddening,” the food director of a school district in Kansas said. “We just want to be able to feed kids.”
  • The White House told INSIDER that it expected the shutdown to deduct 0.13 percentage points from quarterly economic growth for every week the government was closed.

Schools are worried about their ability to provide school lunches during the record partial government shutdown, which on Monday entered its 31st day, and at least one school district is already planning to reduce children’s lunches over fears of running out of food.

“Starting the week of January 21, minimum level means: one main dish, bread, two vegetables, one fruit and milk,” the Vance County school district, located in North Carolina north of Raleigh, said last week in a Facebook post.

This was necessary to “conserve food and funding” because of the shutdown, the district said.

NEW YORK, Jan. 15, 2019 -- People attend a rally to protest against government shutdown outside a federal government building in New York, the United States, Jan. 15, 2019. Dozens of federal employees and their representatives as well as activists gathered here on Tuesday to protest against the ongoing partial government shutdown, which is now the longest government closure in U.S. history. (Xinhua/Wang Ying) (Xinhua/Wang Ying via Getty Images)
A protester in New York demanding an end to the shutdown on January 15; the partial government shutdown on Monday entered its 31st day. Xinhua/Wang Ying via Getty Images

“No fresh produce will be included, except at elementary schools as part of the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program,” it said, 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.

“We hope that normal lunch menus can be resumed as soon as possible once the shutdown has ended.”

High school lunch
A school system in North Carolina, not pictured, already plans to start cutting fresh fruit and vegetables, bottled water, and juice because of the shutdown. 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 prioritising making sure that children get fruit and vegetables and said it might 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.”
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said the city was making plans to keep school cafeterias open if the shutdown continued, saying food for children was “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 had enough funds in its 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.”
Sonny perdue donald trump
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue with President Donald Trump. Perdue on Friday said child nutrition programs were fully funded through the end of March. School districts are worried about feeding children after that. Getty Images

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.’

A White House official told INSIDER last week that the administration expected the shutdown to deduct 0.13 percentage points from quarterly economic growth for every week that the government was 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 looked only at the lost productivity from workers directly employed by the federal government.

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

  • Trump tore into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after congressional Democrats rejected his latest proposal, in which he offered a deal combining temporary protections for the young immigrants known as “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 representative told Business Insider the agency had ceased some “critical” protection operations.
  • The White House says it 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 indicated that most Americans would rather use the $US5 billion Trump is demanding for the wall on other things, like education or healthcare.