School districts prepare for loss of funds for meals as shutdown continues

Posted at 4:22 PM, Jan 21, 2019

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - As the partial government shutdown continues, school districts across the nation are preparing for a loss in federal funding for free and reduced price meals for students.

Grand Rapids Public School District officials say they are making plans for how they'll proceed if that happens.

Districts received funding for most of this month and into February, but they could be reaching into "rainy day funds" before the end of February if the shutdown continues.

John Helmholdt of the GRPS district says that they may have to rely on the per pupil foundation funding that are intended for the classroom to temporarily cover the costs of food service.

School districts typically get reimbursed by the government for meals they pay for up front for school meal programs.

"As of right now, we're fine," Helmholdt told FOX 17 Monday. "However, if this drags on, at some point, there's going to become a question that says, 'how do we fund these services?'"

The Grand Rapids district currently serves meals for up to 17,000 students.  Feeding America West Michigan says that many of those families also use their services.