The School Nutrition Association (SNA) has sent a letter (text here) to congressional leaders urging them to end the Federal Government shutdown to ensure the availability of school meals for America’s students.

Starting on November 1, school meal programs will request federal reimbursements for meals served during October, but the US Department of Agriculture has not guaranteed the availability of sufficient funds to reimburse states for all meals served in October. In fact, one state agency has already notified local school districts that funding is only sufficient to reimburse meals served through October 4, 2013.

“School meal programs depend on federal reimbursements to operate,” said SNA President Leah Schmidt, SNS. “If the Federal Government shutdown persists, millions of students who rely on school meals as a primary source of nutrition will suffer.”

School meal programs operate on extremely tight budgets with limited financial reserves, Schmidt adds. Programs rely on monthly federal reimbursements to pay wages, local vendors and farmers and reimburse their school districts for their share of utilities, custodial and other expenses.