A discussion draft of the child nutrition reauthorization bill that the House Education and Workforce Committee may soon consider includes a provision that would severely restrict schools’ eligibility for community eligibility, an option that allows high-poverty schools to provide school meals at no charge to all students.
Currently a school qualifies for community eligibility if 40% of its students are automatically qualified for free school meals based on their participation in another anti-poverty program. The proposal would raise that threshold to 60%. If the proposal becomes law, 7,022 schools now using community eligibility to serve nearly 3.4 million students would have two years to reinstate paper eligibility applications and return to monitoring eligibility in the lunch line. Another 11,647 schools that qualify for community eligibility, but have not yet adopted it, would lose eligibility.
Source: Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, 4/18/16, Community Eligibility