This Trump plan would strip about 500,000 kids of free school lunches

This Trump plan would strip about 500,000 kids of free school lunches
Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

The Trump administration left important information out of its latest attempt to take food aid from millions of poor people: The plan would potentially strip around 500,000 kids of free school lunches. But while the Trump administration was up-front about the 3.1 million people who would be stripped of food stamps under its plan, it didn’t bother to mention what would specifically happen to children.

Kids automatically get free school lunch if their families receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, a policy that reduces paperwork and makes sure that kids aren’t deprived of food by parents who are unable to do the paperwork for one reason or another. Trump’s plan to kick 3.1 million people off of food stamps works by taking away states’ ability to adjust eligibility to account for high housing and childcare costs. That’s a way states currently can prevent families from having to choose between a roof over their heads and food on their plates—and it’s something Trump Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue called “abuse of a critical safety net system.”

Here’s what that “abuse” looks like when families are faced with the real-world choice between food and housing. “The parents start missing meals to avoid that impact on the kids. And the older kids—the ones in middle school and high school—they often will skip meals to make sure there’s food for the little ones,” Share Our Strength’s Lisa Davis told NBC News.

The eligibility restriction would have a cascade effect by taking those automatic school lunches away from kids in the families that had lost food stamps, so the kids would be hungry at home and hungry at school. That’s information the Trump administration didn’t bother to include in its formal proposal, House Democrats say. Is it because even the Trump administration knows that bragging about making kids go hungry isn’t a good look? Or because it just doesn’t think poor kids are worth a mention? Either way, the cruelty is still the point.

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