KULR: Over $5.1M secured to address Montana school supply chain disruption, food shortages

Funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in the amount of $5,159,810 was secured Friday for Montana and local school districts to help ease supply chain disruptions and food shortages.

“No Montana student should ever go hungry, period,” Senator Jon Tester said. “Unfortunately, the pandemic has disrupted our food supply chain and caused food shortages in our schools, and local communities need the flexibility and the tools to fix them. I’m proud to have secured these funds that will both strengthen our supply chain by locally sourcing food from Montana’s world class farms and ranches and support our students by providing healthy, meals for Montana students.”

A press release from Sen. Tester says the funding includes:

$3,639,907 in Supply Chain Assistance Funds

These funds deliver direct relief from ongoing supply chain issues and improve the quality and consistency of school meals for children in communities experiencing disruptions. Public, Tribal, charter schools, as well as nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions are eligible.

Supply Chain Assistance funding can be used to purchase unprocessed and minimally processed domestic food such as fresh fruit, milk, cheese, frozen vegetables and ground meat. Each state will allocate the funds to schools based on student enrollment, with a minimum amount per district to ensure that small schools aren’t left behind.

To strengthen local food supply chains, states have the option of using up to 10% of the Supply Chain Assistance funds to make bulk purchases of local food and then distributing these foods to schools for use in their meal programs. States also have the option of targeting the funds to areas of highest need.

$791,922 in USDA Foods Purchases

$791,922 was secured in purchases of 100% domestically grown and produced food products, known as USDA Foods, for Montana to distribute to schools to offset the impact of disruptions to their normal supply chains. USDA has identified a large list of available products. Montana will be able to order these additional foods within the coming weeks, with deliveries to occur as soon as possible.

$727,981 in Local Food For Schools Cooperative Agreements

Through the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)’s new Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program, $727,981 was secured for food assistance purchases of domestic local foods for distribution to schools. This program will strengthen the food system for schools by helping to build a fair, competitive and resilient local food chain and expanding local and regional markets with an emphasis on purchasing from historically underserved producers and processors.