Washington D.C. – The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools President and CEO Nina Rees released the following statement on proposed rules changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that would lead to fewer children receiving free and reduced-price school meals:
“Good nutrition is essential to learning. Students who come to school hungry or go hungry during the school day cannot reach their educational potential. For decades, the federal government has acknowledged this reality and sought to prevent hunger in schools through the free and reduced-price school meals program. But proposed changes to how parents qualify for federal nutrition benefits would reduce the number of children who qualify for free and reduced-price meals. Tragically, the proposed rules, if enacted, could leave nearly 1 million children without access to free meals.
“In charter schools, as in all public schools, the subsidized meals that children from low-income families receive are sometimes the only meals that those children consume all day. Charter schools serve higher-than-average numbers of children from low-income families and would be disproportionately affected by any policy that removes children from the meals programs. Nearly 60 percent of charter school students benefit from the free and reduced-price school meals program. If more of our children come to school hungry and remain that way during the school day, fewer will progress educationally or physically.
“The proposed rules changes would also put an unnecessary burden on parents and on schools to verify eligibility for school meal programs. For charter schools, which already have fewer resources and slimmer administrative offices than other public schools, the administrative burden would be magnified.
“Any way you look at it, the proposed rules changes would put roadblocks in the way of student learning. This is the last thing students from low-income families need. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has filed an official comment urging the Department of Agriculture to reject these proposed changes that could leave nearly 1 million children hungry and harm their ability to learn.”