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Funding for School Lunch at 200-plus MA Schools "Under Threat" in Congress

A popular program is under threat in Congress that could mean less access to school lunch and breakfast at more than 200 schools in the Commonwealth. (UDSA)
A popular program is under threat in Congress that could mean less access to school lunch and breakfast at more than 200 schools in the Commonwealth. (UDSA)
July 21, 2016

BOSTON – It's a program that has dramatically increased the number of students eating breakfast and lunch at schools in the Commonwealth, but future funding is under threat in Congress.

The Community Eligibility Provision lets schools in high poverty areas make meals available to all students, without individual eligibility paperwork.

Supporters say it means more poor children eat, which leads to better test scores and fewer discipline problems.

But Zoe Neuberger, a senior policy analyst for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says tens of thousands of school children in the Commonwealth could miss out on lunch help under the measure (HB 5003).

"In Massachusetts, there are 71 schools that are participating in Community Eligibility that would be effected by the house provision, that serve 26,000 students,” she points out. “And there are more than 200 other schools that are currently eligible that would lose their eligibility. "

The bill's sponsor argues Community Eligibility is too generous now, and the government could save money by narrowing it.

The program's supporters counter that much of the savings would be eaten up by the additional paperwork.

Neuberger says the impact will be far greater nationwide with thousands of schools getting shut out.

"Seven thousand of the schools that are already using Community Eligibility would no longer be able to use it, and there are another 11,000 or so schools that are eligible now that would lose their eligibility," she points out.

The Community Eligibility Provision has only been in place since the 2014-2015 school year, but has spread very quickly and is popular both with parents and educators.

Neuberger says the Senate version of the bill doesn't have the same provision, and she adds the Obama administration also does not support the change.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA