WASHINGTON — Could the proposed change to the food stamp program make more than 500,000 school children no longer automatically eligible for free lunches? One lawmaker says yes.
Rep. Bobby Scout, D-Va., says that the proposal submitted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture did not account for the estimated half-million children who automatically get free meals at school due to their eligibility for food stamps, NBC News reported.
Right now, if a family gets food stamps, the students are automatically enrolled in a federal program that gives them free breakfast and lunch while at school. But the USDA has proposed to raise the requirement for food stamps and take into account savings and other assets, CNN reported last week. The requirement changes could remove more than 3 million from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the official name for food stamps.
Scott, who is the chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, penned a letter to US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, asking that the USDA spell out how many children could be impacted by the SNAP program change.
During a call between Scott's staff and USDA officials, the agency said that 93 percent of children who do get free lunch benefits would be affected, but would qualify for the reduced meal programs, paying 30 cents for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch, according to NBC News.
Families, however, would have to apply separately for the school meal benefits, instead of automatically being enrolled due to their eligibility for SNAP benefits, NBC News reported.
Cox Media Group