The Latest on SNAP, A Universal School Meals Bill, and Other Food Policy Updates

Your October food policy updates from FoodCorps:

Trump admin’s proposed SNAP changes could jeopardize access to free school meals for nearly 1 million students, according to new analysis

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released an updated analysis of the impact their proposed policy changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) would have on school meals. This analysis found that nearly 1 million children would be in jeopardy of losing automatic access to free school meals—much higher than the original estimates provided by USDA. 

Children in households that participate in SNAP are automatically eligible for free school meals. If the rule goes into effect as proposed, children in the households that lose SNAP benefits will have that automatic eligibility for free school meals severed. While families could reapply for school meals, Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia, Chair of the House Education and Labor committee with oversight of school meal programs, said in a statement that “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.”

FoodCorps strongly opposed this proposed rule when it was originally announced in the summer—and we asked for your help in speaking out. Our community sent over 200 letters urging the Trump administration to rescind this deeply flawed rule.

With this new information, USDA has re-opened the public comment period for 14 days. If you have not yet submitted a comment, please do so now! It will take less than two minutes. The last day to submit your comment is November 1.

For more background, read this article: Trump rule may mean 1 million kids lose automatic free lunch

Our op-ed in The Hill: “Our hidden infrastructure crisis: School cafeterias”

When we hear our elected officials talk about our crumbling infrastructure, they usually mean roads, bridges, and tunnels. But school kitchens are part of that infrastructure, too, and rarely get the attention and resources they deserve.  In this op-ed for The Hill, Cecily Upton, our co-founder and chief strategist, and Dorothy McAuliffe, former first lady of Virginia and a FoodCorps board member, explain the urgent need to invest in school cafeteria and kitchen infrastructure—and how this investment helps support kids, schools, and entire communities. 

After you read the op-ed, take action! Urge your senators and representative to support the School Food Modernization Act.

Sen. Sanders and Rep. Omar introduce universal school meals bill

Last week was National School Lunch Week. Recognizing the vital role school meals play in students’ health and learning, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota introduced a bill that would make positive, sweeping change to school meals. Their Universal School Meals Program Act would make sure every student in school—regardless of family income—has the food they need to learn and succeed.

The bill would enable all kids to have access to a free breakfast, lunch, and dinner at school. Recent research shows universal school lunch in New York City is linked to statistically significant increases in test scores. And because all meals would be free, this bill would effectively end the pervasive issue of “lunch shaming” that has received much attention in recent years. 

In addition to making all meals free, the bill would also increase access to meals for kids in the summer months, when school is closed, as well as for young kids in child care settings.  

The bill also increases the reimbursement rates for school meals, infusing vital resources into school food operations. Finally, the bill recognizes the potential of school meals as an economic opportunity for local farmers by creating an incentive for schools that procure at least 30 percent of their food from local sources.

We look forward to continuing to build support for this equitable vision of school food and will keep you informed of any updates.

For more, read this article: Free School Lunch for All Students Promised in Bill Introduced by Sen. Sanders and Rep. Omar