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The City Journals

Free lunch program to continue during federal government shutdown

Jan 24, 2019 06:59PM ● By Julie Slama

Canyons School District students, like more than 23 percent at Alta View Elementary in Sandy, will continue to be served free or reduced-price lunch during the federal government shutdown. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama |

Canyons School District students who qualify for free- and reduced-price lunches will continue to be served — even if the federal government shutdown continues several more weeks. 

Canyons spokesman Jeff Haney said the USDA will continue its operations for the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program into March. 

In the Canyons School District, that means about 7,850 students, or 21.5 percent, qualify for free lunches. Some 1,248 students, or 3.54 percent, qualify for reduced-price lunches. 

It’s the Canyon School District’s intention to maintain the meal program uninterrupted, even with the partial shutdown, and will continue serving breakfasts and lunches, Haney said. He added there is not a set limit to the amount the district will pay to provide those meals. District employees have been directed not to question students about meal payment as well, he said.

“First and foremost, increasing student achievement is at the heart of all we do in the Canyons School District,” Haney said. “In fact, it’s one of our guiding tenets, and we place great importance on the many ways we can inspire students to even more achievement. One of those ways is to make sure we’re providing nutritious meals, both breakfast and lunch, to students. Simply put, students can’t learn if they are hungry. In the Canyons School District, if a student wants a meal, they can get one, regardless of their ability to pay at that moment. We’ll work out the details later with their parents or guardians." 

Haney said the income eligibility guidelines for free and reduced-price school meals are based on annual income.  While there is no exclusion on households with furloughed employees applying for benefits during a government shutdown, school food authorities should manage the application process in a manner which reflects their unique circumstance, meaning households may not have information on the duration of the furlough or its ultimate impact on household income. 

The District also will receive reimbursements for all U.S. Department of Education grants, including IDEA, Title I, Title IIA, and Title III, until September, he added.