The Trump administration will propose to cut $8.4 billion from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) School Nutrition Program, which provides free, or at-cost, school lunches to millions of students.
The USDA has been trying to reduce hunger among low-income children for years, and the USDA-administered school lunch program provides free school luncheons to students of low- and moderate-income families.
The program provides $1.3 billion in school food assistance annually.
The USDA also announced a plan to eliminate programs that help low-wage workers pay for food, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), food stamps, and housing assistance.
According to the White House, these programs “do not provide the nutritious, healthy meals our children need.”
The USDA proposal will likely lead to cuts in SNAP, food stamps and housing support, and could affect SNAP recipients who rely on those programs to pay for school food.
The Trump administration is also seeking to eliminate a number of programs that provide nutrition assistance to low-to-moderate-income households, including the Children’s Food Pantry and the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.
According to the USDA, these food pantries serve approximately 20 million low- to moderate-wage families and their children, as well as some working poor families.
In its proposal, the Trump administration also plans to cut funding for the USDA’s School Nutrition and Physical Activity program.
The proposal calls for the elimination of $2.2 billion in food assistance for school children and youth, and $2 billion to implement an additional $300 million in targeted nutrition and physical activity programs to improve school nutrition and safety.
Additionally, the proposal calls on the USDA to eliminate the USDA Rural and Metropolitan Food Assistance Program and the Rural Food Assistance Fund.
These funds are intended to help low income families who do not qualify for federal nutrition assistance, but are eligible for cash assistance from the Food Stamp program.
While this proposal will probably be seen as a victory for Trump, it’s worth remembering that this is a proposal that was made after years of complaints about the USDA programs.
In 2015, then-Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA was working to address hunger in the nation’s schools, but he called the efforts “not good enough.”
“Today, the Department of the Interior announced it will eliminate the Rural and Rural Development Program, the USDA program that provides nutrition assistance,” Vilsacks statement read.
“The USDA’s Rural and Regional Development Program provides nutrition and nutrition education assistance to families and small businesses in rural areas and the Appalachian and Southeast U.s.
It has been a priority for President Trump to eliminate these programs.”
This year, the White Senate Committee on Agriculture and the Environment and the Office of Management and Budget have proposed eliminating programs that support nutrition assistance for low-weight and healthy children.
These cuts would likely hit low-level SNAP and food stamps recipients the hardest.
If you are a parent or child of a low- or moderate- to low-, working- or low- income child, please contact the National Education Association at [email protected] or [email secured].