Today, Allies for Children submitted comments to the USDA on a damaging proposal to
an eligibility rule to SNAP that, if enacted, would take away school meals from 500,000 children nationally. We urge individuals and organizations to join us in calling for the rejection of this proposal by Monday, September 23, at 11:59 p.m by commenting here.
The changes to Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility proposed by USDA would take school meals away from children, and penalize working families striving to gain financial stability as well as people with even modest savings. When families with children lose SNAP, they lose automatic eligibility for school meals. The loss of daily, nutritious breakfast and lunch, coupled with the familial loss in SNAP benefits, will put children from low income families at further risk for food insecurity and poor health and educational outcomes.
Since 2016, Allies for Children has worked with school districts in Allegheny County to improve school breakfast participation rates. Allegheny County has reached an all-time high for students eating school breakfast thanks to the Certified Eligibility Provision (CEP) that allows school buildings or districts to provide free school meals to all students. By providing breakfast, schools ensure millions of students have access to a nutritious meal. Beyond a nutritious meal, providing breakfast improves attendance and, as studies find, helps students improve their academic performance and reduces behavioral referrals. School breakfast is beneficial for all families, especially those struggling to secure food.
The proposed changes to Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility would wipe out years of progress
ensuring all students have access to nutritious school meals. Because fewer children will qualify for free school meals directly because of participation in SNAP, schools’ ability to participate in the CEP Provision will suffer, meaning schools that once offered free meals to all children will no longer be able to do so.
Currently, 136 schools and Pre-K programs in Allegheny County participate in CEP. Fifty percent, or 76,500, of students out of the nearly 153,000 in Allegheny County are eligible for free or reduced priced meals. Decreasing the number of children enrolled in free and reduced school meals will also impact a community’s area eligibility for after-school meals programs, after-school snack programs at schools, and summer feeding programs. Moreover, the proposal would result in 200,000 Pennsylvanians losing access to SNAP benefits, including more than 23,000 families with children.
To view Allies for Children’s comments in their entirety, click here.