Republicans Introduce Bill To Slash Free Lunch Programs

Lunch room, free lunch, school, education

A policy in the United States that allows school boards to provide free meals to children in highly impoverished schools may be in jeopardy, with Latino and other migrant children looking to be particularly affected if the program is axed.

The ironically-named Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016, recently introduced by House Republicans, will significantly reduce the number of schools eligible for the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program.

The program currently allows schools in the country’s poorest areas to bypass a long application process in order to quickly deliver meals to working-class families, but the new bill would force schools to reapply individually under far more stringent conditions.

This is likely to result in previously eligible students losing access to free or even reduced-price meals, with those most affected primarily being Black, Latino, migrant, immigrant and homeless families.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates the new changes would eliminate free meal programs for more than 3.4 million students in 7,022 schools in the U.S. Furthermore, an estimated 11,600 eligible schools not currently enrolled in the program would no longer have the right to be granted access.

But while the National School Boards Association has come out in support of the Act, many groups are protesting against it.

The League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, has issued an action alert, urging Congress to keep Latino children on school meal programs. Hunger Solutions New York has also come out with a petition against the bill, while Feeding America — a network of over 200 food banks in the U.S. — has also issued a statement opposing the bill.

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