Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Child nutrition bill could impact Connecticut kids

Proposed language in a reauthorization bill for school meals funding could have a negative impact on as many as 3.4 million children across the country, including thousands of Connecticut kids, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The bill was submitted last month by U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind), the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education. It would restrict “community eligibility” -- an option within the federal school meals program that allows schools in high-poverty areas to provide meals to all students at no charge.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ analysis shows that 94,721 students in 92 schools and programs across Connecticut would be affected by the change. It would impact students in communities including Hartford, East Hartford, Vernon, Bridgeport, Middletown, New Haven, New London and Waterbury.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the community eligibility standard streamlines the paperwork required for each school, as well as improving the access to nutritious breakfasts and lunches for low-income students and eliminating the stigma that comes with free meals.

Under Rokita’s proposal, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 7,022 school districts would have to return to requiring individual applications for eligibility – and monitor that eligibility within the lunch line – within two years. It would also affect 11,647 other school districts that currently qualify for community eligibility, but have yet to adopt it.

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