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Under Trump proposal, hundreds of thousands of kids could lose automatic free lunch

Megan Henney

Close to a million students could lose their automatic eligibility for free school lunches under a Trump administration proposal that’s expected to limit access to food stamps.

Up to 982,000 children would no longer be directly certified for free school meals under the rule change, Brandon Lipps, the deputy undersecretary for Food, Nutrition & Consumer Services, confirmed during congressional testimony on Wednesday. Roughly half of those students would still be eligible for the free lunch, but their families would have to apply in order to receive it.

About 93 percent would pay a reduced price of 40 cents for school lunch if they applied.

In July, the Trump administration unveiled a proposal to limit access to food stamps, officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a move that officials said would end benefits for roughly 3.1 million people, by closing a loophole that allows states to automatically enroll residents already receiving other welfare benefits.

“This proposal will save money and preserve the integrity of the program,” Sonny Perdue, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, said at the time. “SNAP should be a temporary safety net.”

According to data provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 40 million low-income people participated in SNAP last year. Under current rules, a family of three who uses them makes less than $28,000 per year.

If their families receive food stamps, children automatically qualify to receive a free lunch.

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