Govt. shutdown could mean school meal funding cuts, Lowcountry districts planning ahead
HUGER, S.C. (WCIV) —
The free and reduced meal program for public schools is not guaranteed funding past March, per officials with the South Carolina Department of Education.
State officials say discussions at the federal level have called to continue funding the program through June, but that's not yet certain.
"This is our extra income," said Heather Fiveash, holding a freshly-hatched egg on her property in Huger.
She says her son qualifies for free and reduced lunch at Phillip Simmons Middle School, and she wants to know what the Plan B is for Lowcountrty schools should the shutdown continue past March.
"It'd be nice if we didn’t have to worry about him not getting breakfast and lunch at school," Fiveash said.
School officials say around 60,000 students qualify for free and reduced lunch across Lowcountry school districts.
Katie Tanner with the Berkeley County School District says BCSD already has money set aside so kids will still get their lunch.
"It would have to go through board approval," Orvin Tanner said. "There is money available in district funding that could continue to fund the program if it was necessary."
The Charleston County School district sent a statement saying officials will "look at local reserves and develop a plan" should the shutdown continue past March. The full pres release can be found here.
"Kids come first and then parents," Fiveash said. "That's what you’re supposed to do with your kids. Your kids are more important."
CCSD officials say 29,221 students qualify for free and reduced lunch.
Officials in Colleton County say 61% of the district's 5,700 students qualify for free and reduced lunch.
Dorchester District Two officials say there are 9,803 students on the free meal program and 1,612 students on the reduced program.
Berkeley County officials say around 17,000 students qualify for free and reduced meals.