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Rep. Blunt Rochester makes case for school pandemic federal food programs to continue

Lunch at William Penn High School on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
Joe Irizarry
Delaware Public Media
Lunch at William Penn High School on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.

With pandemic federal food programs for schools scheduled to expire, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester and USDA are lobbying for an extension.

Blunt Rochester and USDA Deputy Under Secretary of Food, Nutrition & Consumer Services Stacy Dean visited William Penn High School Wednesday morning discussing the importance of the programs for students.

Programs in jeopardy of being cut are the free breakfast and lunch program, Summer Feeding Program, and After School Snack Program among others.

Blunt Rochester noted Republicans oppose an extension because they saw the programs as a temporary fix - and keeping them would increase deficits.

She said cutting those programs now might save money, but it could cost dearly later.

"You're either going to pay now or you're going to pay later you're going to pay later with kids who can't learn because they're hungry or kids who have health issues or kids who are not productive and happy and thriving," said Blunt Rochester.

Dean said if Congress fails to act on the programs it won’t affect this school year.

"We have these flexibilities for this school year. So for summer feeding and for next fall that's when we lose this extra help, and we're hoping to secure it," said Dean.

William Penn High School has a Farm to School to Table program that provides locally-grown foods to students’ school-provided meals.

Students also run a restaurant – Penn Bistro – and a farm – Penn Farm – where they learn how to farm, including applying principles of agriculture, biology, and chemistry of plant life and caring for animals.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.