If your kid was one of the millions of children in the U.S. who doesn't have access to a morning meal at home, but was able to get a free, hearty breakfast each day at school, you'd probably be pretty upset if someone wanted to take it away from them.
For millions of children across the country, their hunger became a little less burdensome by an Obama-era program known as the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), a piece of the The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which aimed to make school meals free for all students in high-poverty districts, even those whose families didn’t qualify for free or reduced-price meals.Since it began in 2010, a record number of school-age children have relied on these meals for nourishment during the school day.
A study by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) shows the CEP has made huge strides for food-insecure families. Consecutively for the last six years, more low-income children than ever before are receiving free breakfasts. To date, an estimated 12 million children from low-income families are eating breakfast at school, which is an increase of 50 percent from 10 years ago.
And sadly, some legislators want to do away with these programs.
While free food is a wonderful incentive for low-income students, there’s often a stigma associated with receiving it. Embarrassment at being singled out as "poor" may be the reason some low-income families don’t participate in the program (or turn in their applications) to begin with. That’s why the CEP made perfect sense. In high areas of poverty, all students, regardless of their family income, would qualify for free meals.
Six of the 10 states that rely heaviest on the School Breakfast Program to provide nutrition for eligible students are red states. In West Virginia, 84 out of 100 kids eat free school breakfast. Now, the same constituents who were in favor of this new administration may find their children are negatively impacted by it.
In fact, of the top 10 states using the CEP, six are predominately red states that overwhelmingly voted for Trump, including Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas. Now, the same constituents who were in favor of this new administration may find their children are negatively impacted by it.
It is unclear if or when changes may happen to the CEP just yet, but FRAC and many families that rely on the School Breakfast Program—which ultimately exists to help children succeed—hope for the sake of hungry kids that it will remain intact.