No child should go to school hungry. About a half-million of students could lose their access to free school meals under A Trump administration proposal to limit the amount of people who qualify for food stamps, forming protest from congressional Democrats who believe it will harm needy schoolchildren.
The change was proposed over the summer, with an idea to cut about 3 million people from Supplement Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). The goal of the this is to eliminate eligibility for people who have food stamps because they have qualified for other forms of government aid.
Children in those households could possibly lose access to free school lunches, since food stamp eligibility is one way students can qualify for free and reduced lunch.
Back in July, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that the change was intended to cut families that the administration thinks do not need food stamp aid.
“The American people expect their government to be fair, efficient, and to have integrity — just as they do in their own homes, businesses, and communities,” Perdue said. “That is why we are changing the rules, preventing abuse of a critical safety net system, so those who need food assistance the most are the only ones who receive it.”
Many households across the country rely on schools for food, some school systems have started to feed their students through the summertime. In 2018, about one out of seven children came from households that were considered “food insecure”.
The comment period for the proposed rule closed this past Monday, bringing it one step closer to taking effect. The many children affected by the change would lose eligibility next school year, but they may still qualify under other criteria. Some high-poverty schools offer free meals to all students, regardless of their household income.
Democratic members of the House Committee on Education and Labor wrote a letter on Tuesday, calling on Perdue to halt the rule. The protested that the department did not publicize the estimated number of students who could lose free lunch eligibility during the comment period for the regulation, when interested groups could have a say on it.
“Both the SNAP and school meals programs are critical in combating food insecurity among children, ensuring children are fed nutritiously in school, during the summer and in other care settings,” they wrote. “By undermining access to these essential programs, the proposed rule would worsen child food insecurity, with detrimental effects on children’s academic outcomes, health and more.”