Proposed federal budget could cut funding for school lunch programs
By Ryan Quinn Staff writer
The U.S. House of Representatives’ version of the federal budget for this fiscal year could significantly shrink a program that has expanded free meals to public school students, especially in West Virginia.
The state Department of Education and the Food Research & Action Center, a Washington, D.C.-based anti-hunger nonprofit, say that could happen if the Community Eligibility Provision is changed. Under that provision, schools and school districts can serve free meals to all students — and be reimbursed for a majority of those meals — so long as 40 percent of students automatically qualify for free meals.
Both agencies point to a House Budget Committee report, which, as one possible policy change, suggests a higher threshold of students to “better target program resources to lower-income households.”
And the state education department pointed to a video of a Budget Committee meeting in which a congresswoman asks, “Does the resolution assume any changes to child nutrition programs, like the school lunch program?” The brief response references a threshold increase from 40 percent to 60 percent.