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SNAP Benefits: Schools face issues on fund meals for kids

There will be additional financial difficulties for families and schools across the country as a result of the termination of a pandemic relief program, including SNAP benefits, that offered free breakfast and lunch to every schoolchild in America.

All children, regardless of family wealth, received free meals thanks to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and other pandemic spending laws.

SNAP Benefits, Other Food Assistance Program Soon To End

But despite requests to continue the program from anti-hunger activists, funding for the program was cut off last year.

“We are really concerned about the impact of the debt on the families, but also on schools that are struggling to collect,” said Diane Pratt-Heavner, director of media relations for the School Nutrition Association.”These losses, if they are unable to collect, will cut into education funds.”

According to data from the School Nutrition Association, a professional organization of school nutrition experts who conducted the study, hundreds of schools are struggling to pay for meals.

Among the roughly 850 schools that reported such deficits as of November, unpaid debts for those expenses totaled $19.2 million.

The research revealed that one school district alone reported food debts of $1.7 million, with a median outstanding lunch debt of $5,164 per school.

Although these sums may appear small, they can have a significant impact on schools that are already under pressure due to their efforts to resume normal operations following past pandemic shutdowns and, more recently, the impact of searing inflation on their already tight budgets.

Read more: Inflation relief payments: Feds make billions of dollars available to Americans; Will it happen again this year?

Some States Continue Providing Free Meals

There will be additional financial difficulties for families and schools across the country as a result of the termination of a pandemic relief program, including SNAP benefits.

No Kid Hungry is a campaign run by Share Our Strength, according to senior vice president Lisa Davis the issue “underscores the extreme hardships that both families and schools continue to face and the need to find solutions”.

The reinstatement of the free or reduced-price program, which provides food for children whose families have an income low enough to qualify, coincided with the termination of free lunches for all children.

However, some families are suddenly discovering that they earn just a little bit too much to be eligible for federally funded free or reduced-price meals while still experiencing financial hardship due to excessive inflation, according to Pratt-Heavner.

A family of four must make less than $36,075 yearly to be eligible for free school meals, or less than $51,338 for reduced-price meals. She also noted that some families may be reluctant to apply for the free- or reduced-price program because they do not want to divulge details about their finances or Social Security numbers, or they may not be familiar with the program.

California, Massachusetts, and Vermont are a few of the states that have stepped up to continue subsidizing the provision of free meals to all children. The School Nutrition Association is encouraging Congress to reinstate the free meal program for all children because children’s nutritional needs are constant throughout all states, according to Pratt-Heavner.

According to Feeding America, studies have demonstrated that a child’s performance in school can be affected by hunger. It says that children who suffer from hunger are more likely to repeat a grade and experience social and behavioral issues.

Read more: Proposed student loan repayment plan: What borrowers need to know?

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