Committee Democrats Call on Trump Administration: Abandon Proposal that Jeopardizes Access to School Meals for Nearly 1 Million Children

WASHINGTON – All 28 Democrats on the Education and Labor Committee submitted a second letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to abandon its proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which would result in nearly one million children losing automatic access to free school meals. The letter was submitted after the USDA was forced to reopen a public comment period because it failed to publish internal estimates showing the impact of its proposal on school meal programs.

According to the USDA’s own estimates, the proposed rule would cut automatic access to free school meals for 982,000 children, roughly twice as many as the USDA initially reported to Committee staff.

“Even taking the Department at its word that its newly released estimate represents an upper bound on the number of children affected, a proposal that puts a substantial number of our nation's low-income children at risk of losing their automatic eligibility for free meals at school –  at the same time as their families lose access to SNAP – is cause for deep concern,” Committee Democrats wrote.Extensive research demonstrates that food insecurity has negative consequences for children's health and ability to learn in school, and the Department's own research shows that in 2018, 11.2 million children lived in food insecure households.”

The letter also raises concerns that the USDA’s estimates do not account for the potential domino effect on the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). CEP enables schools to provide free school meals to all students if more than 40 percent of students are participating in certain anti-poverty programs.

The Department's newly released analysis fails to consider the full scope of relevant effects that the proposed rule would have on children's access to free school meals,” the Members wrote.

The full text of the letter to Secretary Perdue is here.


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