Montana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen spoke to KGVO News on Tuesday about over $5 million in funding for school breakfasts and lunches from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Arntzen provided details on the latest funding from the USDA.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture which is where we receive a lot of the funding for our breakfasts, and our lunch programs,” said Arntzen. “Montana has received about $5 million, or a little bit more than that in three different funding flexibilities to make sure that our school children receive great nutrition and breakfast and the lunch program.”

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Arntzen said some of the funds are meant to supplement the problems related to supply chain issues.

“One of them is coming to us specifically here at the OPI and then they will be given to our over 820 schools and it's about giving them different types of foods and making sure that they have foods that are non perishable, making sure that we have an opportunity to sustain what students are expecting,” she said.

Arntzen said some of the funds will be used to purchase processed foods.

“Another one has to deal with USDA,” she said. “Schools can directly purchase from the USDA different kinds of processed foods and these are canned foods and things like that. There's nothing better than canned peaches in Montana when it's really, really cold.”

Another part of the funding will help create partnerships with Montana farmers and ranchers to supply fresh foods for public schools.

“The third one has to deal with the most flexible manner of funding, and it reflects who we are as an agricultural state,” she said. “So if we can go to a rancher, or if we can go to a pulse grower and get those lentils to make that chili, if we can do something in Montana that will say that this is a Montana made lunch or a Montana made breakfast, then our students will recognize that and we're also supporting our great agriculture in Montana.”

With funding made available through USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation, USDA is providing $1 billion for schools to purchase food for their meal programs and another $300 million for states to purchase foods to be distributed to schools.

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