U.S. lawmakers are quietly debating an important piece of legislation that greatly affects meals for schools.
The legislation in question is part of a 2010 school nutrition bill as part of the once-every-five-years bill that sets the budget and rules for school meals. The specific part in question affects schools and students that are currently eligible for free or discounted meal programs, as well as the overall budget for the meals.
Currently the bill provides free lunches and after-school meals to every student enrolled in a public school where at least 40 percent of its student body live in low-income households. Now the House Education and Workforce Committee want the law changes so that only schools who have 60% of students living at or near the poverty line will qualify. The bill also requires cafeterias to serve healthier foods – more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and less junk food.
Lunch programs as they are now already receive meager funding. The $13 billion allocated to them equals out to just over a dollar per meal for cafeteria administrators to spend on ingredients.
Changing the law now would provide even less funding, would remove eligibility for over 7,000 schools and 3.4 million students, and would create additional burdens of paperwork and administration work.
Luckily, the original act passed in 2010, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, was heavily supported by first lady Michelle Obama, so any cutbacks would most likely be vetoed by President Obama.