KLYQ: Senator Tester Announces School Supply Chain Help

by Steve Fullerton

Over $5 million will be coming to Montana to help with school supply chain disruptions and food shortages. The funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is from three sources – most of the money ($3,639,000) will be from the Supply Chain Assistance fund, about $800,000 from the USDA Foods Purchases program and $730,000 from the Local Food For Schools Cooperative Agreements. Tester and other Congressmen asked the Department of Agriculture to allow schools to purchase locally, instead of relying exclusively on the supply chain.

The Supply Chain Assistance will be distributed based on student enrollment for buying unprocessed and minimally processed food such as fresh fruit, milk, cheese, frozen vegetables, and ground meat. The state has the option of using up to 10 percent for bulk purchases, which are then distributed to schools.

The Food Purchase money is for domestically grown and produced foods known as USDA Foods, which the state will use to offset the disruptions to normal supply chains. The Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement funds will allow Montana to strengthen the food supply system and expand the local and regional food markets.

In a news release last week, Sen. Tester said, “No Montana student should ever go hungry, period. 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.”