The Trump administration’s effort to tighten the rules for food stamp eligibility could result in a half-million children losing access to free school lunches, according to an unpublished analysis by the Department of Agriculture.
The White House wants to end the practice, currently in use in 43 states, of automatically enrolling participants in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps. The rule change would remove an estimated 3 million people from SNAP, including more than 500,000 children who were also automatically enrolled in free school-lunch programs.
The comment period for the rule change closed on Monday, and if it takes effect, school children will be affected next year. In a letter Monday, Democrats on the House Committee on Education and Labor asked Agriculture Department Secretary Sonny Perdue to withdraw the proposed rule, in part because the department failed to make its school lunch estimate public. A spokeswoman for Republicans on the committee said Democrats’ concerns were unwarranted, since most students who could be removed due to the rule change will still qualify for free lunches under other criteria.