By Christopher Walljasper
CHICAGO (Reuters) – The United States Department of Agriculture is providing up to $ 1.5 billion to help school lunch programs overcome the supply chain crisis, the Agriculture Secretary said on Friday, Tom Vilsack.
Purchasing large amounts of food has become difficult due to delays in shipments, shortages of some items, high food costs, and labor shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic.
USDA seeks funding from Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), providing $ 1 billion to schools to purchase food for their meal programs and an additional $ 500 million to purchase local foods to distribute to schools , said Vilsack.
“This will result in a 5% increase in what school districts normally have,” said Vilsack of Gourmet Gorilla, a catering company that prepares 40,000 meals for Chicago-area schools.
The 1930s CCC was generally used to provide subsidies to farmers and gives the USDA broad authority to make direct payments to producers when crop prices are low.
The number of Americans without enough food to eat remains higher than before the pandemic, and the Biden administration has sought to increase funding for food stamps and school lunch programs.
The funds are expected to be available from January.
(Reporting by Christopher Walljasper; Writing by Caroline Stauffer and Mark Porter)