This week, President Donald Trump’s proposal of changes to the food stamp program, that could result in over a half-million students losing free school meals and 3 million citizens being dropped from the program, has moved a step closer to being implemented.
2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders said Wednesday night he “cannot begin to understand the casual cruelty that motivates Trump and his billionaire friends to harm vulnerable children like this.”
Trump is depriving 500,000 kids of their school lunches for no damn reason—even after 139 members of Congress warned him not to.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) September 25, 2019
I cannot begin to understand the casual cruelty that motivates Trump and his billionaire friends to harm vulnerable children like this. https://t.co/XhTZrgNS37
The food stamp program called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), that Trump wants to change, allows schools to provide free meals to their students who come from high-poverty communities. According to the Washington Post, this change is intended to eliminate eligibility for people who get food stamps because they have qualified for other forms of government aid, even though they may have savings or other assets.
If these changes are implemented, students will be affected starting their next school year. While some schools offer free meals to all students in need, not all schools have the ability to do so unless a program like SNAP can help.
“Both the SNAP and school meals programs are critical in combating food insecurity among children, ensuring children are fed nutritiously in school, during the summer and in other care settings. By undermining access to these essential programs, the proposed rule would worsen child food insecurity, with detrimental effects on children’s academic outcomes, health and more,” said the House Committee on Education and Labor.
According to Common Dreams, Congress last year approved a farm bill that excluded SNAP changes sought by the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers, so the president and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue have worked to unilaterally slash eligibility for the program, which is widely recognized by policy experts as an effective way to reduce hunger.
Sanders’ education platform included the elimination of “school lunch debt” which he believes should not exist at all and will push for free, universal, year-round school meals.
“In America today, one in every six kids goes hungry. Instead of addressing this crisis, students with lunch debt are sometimes denied meals, have debt collectors sent after their families, and are even denied their diplomas. Unacceptable. It is not a radical idea that no child in this country should go hungry. We must ensure that all students have access to healthy school meals,” Sanders states on his website.