09/29/2021 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's investment will address the growing issues facing agricultural markets and supply chains, including school nutrition supply chains directly impacting Academy members and our communities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, school foodservice directors have been struggling with a number of supply chain shortages, including canceled food orders due to labor shortages and transportation issues. These shortages have forced school foodservice directors to scramble to find alternative ways to provide children with school meals that often do not meet the same nutritional standards outlined in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.
The total $3 billion investment includes:
- Up to $1.5 billion in assistance to help schools respond to supply chain disruptions. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, school food professionals, including many Academy members, have met extraordinary challenges to ensure every child can get the food they need to learn, grow and thrive. These funds will support procurement of agricultural commodities and enable USDA's Food and Nutrition Service and Agricultural Marketing Service to enhance the toolbox for school nutrition professionals working hard to make sure students have reliable access to healthy meals.
- $500 million to support drought recovery and encourage the adoption of water-smart management practices. This assistance will enable USDA's Farm Production and Conservation agencies to deliver much needed relief and design drought resilience efforts.
- Up to $500 million to prevent the spread of African Swine Fever via robust expansion and coordination of monitoring, surveillance, prevention, quarantine and eradication activities through USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
- $500 million to provide relief from agricultural market disruption, such as increased transportation challenges, availability and cost of certain materials and other near-term obstacles related to the marketing and distribution of certain commodities, as part of Secretary Vilsack’s work as co-chair of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force.
The pandemic has dramatically impacted every part of America's food supply chain. Academy members from the School Nutrition Services Dietetics Practice Group have met with USDA and members of Congress to describe the current challenges in providing children with healthful, school meals. This $1.5 billion investment to enhance access to healthy, affordable food will be a critical component to address the unprecedented challenges facing school nutrition professionals.
The Academy looks forward to our continued partnership with USDA and is committed to working to provide access to a healthy, sustainable food system.