Statement attributed to Jim Weill, president, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)
WASHINGTON, October 17, 2019 — A surprise release of data that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) should have disclosed earlier underscores the deep harm of its proposed rule to limit access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): eliminating food assistance for 3.1 million people and jeopardizing free school meals for nearly 1 million children.
Children who live in households that receive SNAP benefits are directly certified (automatically eligible) to receive free school breakfast and lunch. While the initial estimate showed that the rule could jeopardize more than 500,000 children’s access to free school meals, the new USDA analysis states that as many as 982,000 children could be impacted, with 497,000 children moving from free to reduced-price meals, and 40,000 completely losing eligibility for both free and reduced-price school meals. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) noted in a statement, “Even for those who remain eligible, forcing low-income families to navigate the burdensome paperwork will inevitably lead to eligible children losing access to a critical source of daily nutrition.”
If this rule is enacted, children will be hungry at home and school. Since childhood hunger is linked to academic struggles, difficulties focusing and concentrating, mental health disorders, and increased behavioral referrals, many schools would struggle to meet the educational, health, and mental health needs of the students who lose SNAP benefits and as a result, access to free school meals.
The administration has reopened the public comment period for 14 days. FRAC has a comment platform on its website where people can submit comments opposing this deeply flawed proposed rule. The final day to comment is November 1.
The Food Research & Action Center is the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.