SNAP: School Lunches: Comments Welcome

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is in trouble. Read and send your comment by Nov. 1st. I already did. Thanx. (The message will bleed across the margins.)

Almost 1 Million Kids Could Lose Free or Reduced Cost School Meals

Comment today against this outrageous proposal

Recently, the Coalition on Human Needs alerted you to another Trump Administration attack on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Currently, states can eliminate asset tests for SNAP to serve more struggling families working their way up the economic ladder. By changing these categorical eligibility requirements for food assistance, this proposal would deny or reduce SNAP for almost 3 million people. And it’s now worse than we thought.

The proposed rule’s impact goes beyond SNAP. Children in families that lose SNAP may also lose their free or reduced price school meals. Appallingly, it turns out that this proposed rule would affect nearly twice as many kids as originally estimated. The USDA now says 982,000 children would be negatively affected by changes to categorical eligibility, almost twice as many as the previously estimated 500,000. That’s more children than the entire populations of Nashville and Pittsburgh combined. 497,000 kids would be moved from free to reduced-price meals, while another 40,000 would lose eligibility altogether.

The comment period on this proposed rule had previously closed. But due to this miscalculation by USDA, the comment period has now been extended to November 1st. However, the only new comments that will be counted are those related to the impact of the proposal on children’s loss of school meal assistance.

The time to act is now. Use FRAC’s comment portal here to submit a comment by November 1st. But remember: Please ensure your comment is related to children and school meals. Otherwise, your comment won’t be counted.

Here are some points to consider including, in addition to explaining who you are and why you are concerned about the proposed rule:

  1. The revised USDA estimates prove changes to categorical eligibility could be more harmful for kids than we imagined. USDA now estimates that close to 1 million children may lose access to free or reduced price school meals (nearly double the previous figure cited). We are still skeptical of USDA’s estimates: they believe 40,000 children would lose eligibility for benefits altogether. But this number could be much higher. By forcing parents to fill out more paperwork, many more children could be inadvertently denied access to nutritious school meals, even though they are eligible.
  2. Under the Community Eligibility Provision, nearly 2,000 schools across the country provide free school meals to all their students because more than 40 percent of their students participate in an anti-poverty program, such as SNAP. If fewer families receive SNAP, some communities may not qualify for the program, increasing bureaucratic hurdles and ensuring that some poor children will no longer receive free meals.
  3. “Lunch shaming” is a worrying trend where school districts punish children who can’t pay for lunch or have accrued lunch debt, for instance by serving them reduced-quality cold lunches, or by forcing them to wear stamps or wristbands in the cafeteria. This has resulted in national news coverage and has been met with an understandably negative backlash by the public. By forcing kids who currently qualify for free school meals to pay, or kicking off kids who pay a reduced fee for lunch entirely, change to categorical eligibility would only make this trend worse. How would school districts respond if the number of kids losing some or all of their benefits swells by 982,000 children?

To learn more: Read FRAC’s 1-pager on Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility here.

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