The biggest threat to school lunch and school breakfast, the federally funded programs that feed more than 30 million pupils daily, is legislation that doesn't exist at the moment but could easily be proposed as a deficit-cutting tool, says the School Nutrition Association. The group, which speaks for school food directors, put opposition to block grants at the top of its list of congressional goals this year.
With Congress settling into its election year agenda, the School Nutrition Association, speaking for school food directors, says lawmakers should oppose any effort to convert funding for school food programs into block grants.
The perennial Republican proposal to convert food stamps into a block grant "would severely undermine" the anti-hunger program's ability to respond immediately to economic downturns, says the American Enterprise Institute, an exponent of free enterprise. In a paper aimed at the 2018 farm bill, AEI says "the program could be strengthened by doing more to assist participants with finding employment and rewarding work."
Declaring that states are the laboratories of innovation, the head of the federal government’s largest anti-hunger program said he will give states “the flexibility to test new and better ways to administer our programs.”
The Agriculture Department has run the $74-billion-a-year food stamp program since it was created half a century ago — "a mistake," according to the platform approved by delegates at the Republican National Convention. The campaign document says Republicans "will ... separate the administration of [food stamps] from the Department of Agriculture."
A three-state test of block grants for school lunch and breakfast programs would short-change schools and lead to less-nutritious meals for students, said a chorus of opponents that included lawmakers, antihunger groups and a group speaking for school food directors. The news conference on Capitol Hill underlined the split between the School Nutrition Association (SNA) and its one-time Republican allies.
In the first plank of an election-year policy agenda, Speaker Paul Ryan said congressional Republicans "are producing reforms in federal policies that will give states, schools and local providers the flexibility they need to provide children access to healthy meals."