Nutrition

Spending on major school nutrition programs fell during pandemic

Spending on major school nutrition programs fell during pandemic
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The USDA’s National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program typically make up the bulk of spending on child nutrition programs. In fiscal 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, spending on the two programs was approximately $18.7 billion, nearly 80 percent of the $23.6 billion spent on all child nutrition programs that year. However, school disruptions during the pandemic led to a drop in spending, to $13.9 billion in 2020 and $12.4 billion in 2021.

The declines were due in part to the transition of many schools to the Summer Food Service program and the establishment of the temporary Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program. Spending on the summer food program increased from nearly $500 million in 2019 to $10.7 billion in 2021. P-EBT spending reached $10.7 billion in 2020 and $28.3 billion in 2021.

While spending on the child and adult care nutrition program was relatively stable over the three years, the program’s share of child nutrition program spending fell from about 16 percent in 2019 to seven percent in 2021, as total spending rose.

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