Ongoing government shutdown threatens school nutrition funding

Southside school districts not making any changes yet

By Colter Anstaett - Reporter

DANVILLE, Va. - In Martinsville, all students are eligible for free and reduced meals.

But Martinsville Public Schools' administrative services executive director Travis Clemons said Thursday the school district has enough cash on hand to fund the meals for six months after federal funding ends.

"I don't think it would be necessary at this point to consider amending our proposed budget that we're going to present to city council soon," Clemons said. "At the end of March, the end of May, closer to the end of the year, if a shutdown is still causing issues and if we were begin to see a cash flow issue, then certainly we would start to consider it at that time."

How the budget would be amended hasn't been discussed, nor has what will be done if the government is still shut down six months after federal funding ends.

"I don't think any of us believe that it's go that long," Clemons said. 

All Henry County students are also eligible for free and reduced lunches.

The school district's communication director, Monica Hatchett, said the district's finance team has some general ideas about where money for school nutrition programs would come from if the shutdown continues beyond March, but no official plan had been developed Thursday.

"With the information being so new for us, and the deadline for that possibility being not quite so close, we're certainly just monitoring the situation right now," Hatchett said.

Danville Public Schools' nutrition director Phillip Gardner said there's no plan yet for how the government shutdown will be accounted for if it continues past March. 

"We'll look at our budgeting process starting in April, so hopefully we'll have a better idea of the direction we're going to move going forward after that," Gardner said.

All three school districts said they will make funding school nutrition programs a priority and will make sure students get the food they need.

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