While the federal government’s partial shutdown is leaving thousands of workers without pay and disrupting other services, it has not had much of an impact on local public schools, according to officials – at least not yet.

But school food service directors are keeping a close eye on one federal program that may not be guaranteed to keep going should the shutdown continue: the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s school meal program.

"We are all following this with concern," said Ellen Nylen, food service director at the Webster schools, which like several districts in the region runs a universal free meals program dependent on reimbursements from the USDA to operate.

Other school nutrition directors on Wednesday also said they are worried about the situation, even after receiving a recent memo from the state education department saying Massachusetts has at least received funding from the U.S. government for local school meals programs through January and into February.

That same message said USDA food deliveries, which many districts also rely on to feed students, would continue through next month as well.

On Wednesday, USDA said funding would be good through March.

What happens after that point is unclear.

"We’re not exactly sure yet," said David Semenza, the Fitchburg schools’ director of nutrition services. "We’re relying on (the state education department’s) guidance and updates on that."

"This is uncharted territory," said the Worcester schools’ nutrition director, Donna Lombardi.

While all districts in Central Massachusetts have at least some students who are eligible to receive subsidized school meals, a growing number of them over the last few years have begun participating in the federal government’s Community Eligibility Provision – a need-based initiative that provides those systems full reimbursement to offer free meals to all students, regardless of their families’ financial circumstances. Districts in the region enrolled in the CEP, according to the state’s latest records, include Webster, Fitchburg, Worcester, Southbridge, Athol-Royalston, and Quaboag.

Some of those districts have reported student participation in their meal programs has increased in recent years. In Quaboag, for instance, around 80 percent of the high school is now getting school-provided meals, while that rate is about 70 percent at the elementary schools, according to nutrition director Melissa Mansfield.

Ms. Mansfield is concerned about the prospect of suddenly being unable to continue providing those meals should the federal funding dry up.

"The longer this goes on, the higher chance we have of being stuck not being able to feed kids," she said, adding it "remains to be seen" if the district itself could somehow keep the program going after that point. "It’s very tight with the CEP program – you have to watch every little penny."

Mr. Semenza said Fitchburg "would find a way to make sure students are still being fed."

"At this point, it’s still premature to say how we’d actually do that," however, he added. "But it’s too important to the school day (to stop school meals)."

Many of the districts that offer universal free meals are the same systems struggling to put together budgets each year due to lack of sufficient funding from the state. Fitchburg, Worcester and Webster were all represented at a public forum on Tuesday night in Fitchburg, for instance, where school officials described how the situation has left them with practically no room to take on new costs.

Aside from the federal reimbursements, meanwhile, "the biggest concern for K-12 child nutrition programs would obviously be if USDA foods delivery were to become unavailable," Ms. Nylen said.

Apart from the school meal program, however, it appears public schools don’t have a lot else to worry about just yet regarding the shutdown. According to a recent newsletter from the state’s education department to local districts, the U.S. Department of Education has already been funded through September, which means need-based aid and grants distributed to schools through that agency should be unaffected.

"So far we have not noticed or been made aware of any potential impacts," said Gregory Bares, the Worcester schools’ manager of grant resources and Title I.