Welcome to the Trump presidency, an administration that wants to take away free and reduced-price meals from school children.
House Republicans on Wednesday weighed legislation that would greatly reduce the number of meals that are provided to children from poor and lower-income families.
Legislation debated by the House Education and Workforce Committee aims to save money by scaling back the number of schools in which all students receive free or reduced meals.
The administration says schools are not happy with the Obama administration’s healthier meal rules which they call too restrictive and not appealing enough to students.
Republicans wants to introduce a “trial period” of block grants in three states. The trial would take away unlimited federal dollars for students who typically qualify for free and reduced-price lunches.
The plan was quickly shot down by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association
“The bill would significantly weaken access to healthy, nutritious foods for our nation’s children,” said Dr. Benard Dreyer, president of the pediatrics group.
The School Nutrition Association, which has called for major changes in school meal standards, has also opposed the bill. Current nutritional rules were championed by former first lady Michelle Obama.
The SNA said the block grant proposal is “reckless” and would serve only as a first step to eliminate the federal guarantee that all children have access to nutritional food options throughout the school year.
Republicans argue that the program would save money by providing help only to those with the most need.
GOP leaders said the program would also aim to “scale back” free meals” for students. Whatever that means.
Virginia Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott said the bill only aims to “cut budgets instead of feeding our children.”
With the support of Democrats, the GOP-led Senate Agriculture Committee passed legislation in January that would ease requirements for whole grains in school meals and delay a deadline to cut sodium levels. Agreements between the parties ended at that point.
Healthy food standards have been in place since 2012 and set fat, sugar and sodium limits on foods in the lunch line and beyond. Under the leadership of Michelle Obama, schools in the last four years have introduced more whole grains, fruits and vegetables.