H.R.4684: Universal School Meals Program Act of 2019

Overview

The Universal School Meals Program Act (H.R. 4684) would eliminate the means-tested structure of our school nutrition system and extend federally funded school meals to all children regardless of family income. Currently, only students from homes with incomes below 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) ($47,600 for a family of four) can enroll in free or reduced-price meals at school. Additionally, the bill would:

1) Increase the federal reimbursement rate for school meals to $2.72 per breakfast and $3.81 per lunch;
2) Provide a $.30 per meal incentive for schools to purchase at least 30% of their food locally;
3) Creates a national summer electronic benefit transfer (EBT) of $60/month per-child through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for three summer months for all children whose families earn less than 200 percent of the FPL;
4) Expand the afterschool snack program so that all schools would be reimbursed for a free meal and a snack for children who participate in afterschool care or activities;
5) Allow schools to apply for a one-time reimbursement for all debt from unpaid meal fees that are outstanding prior to the passage of this bill; and
6) Provide free lunch to all children in public and non-profit juvenile detention centers.

S. 2609 is the Senate companion bill introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Source

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Talking Points

  • National School Meal Programs are critical building blocks in the cognitive and physical development of children. Expanding these programs so that all students can receive free nutritious meals at school will not only lead to higher academic performance among students but also eliminate the stigma surrounding children who presently receive free or reduced lunch.
  • The USDA estimates that the administrative cost of facilitating federal lunch and breakfast programs contributes to 19 percent of the price of each school lunch. Ending burdensome eligibility requirements will allow schools the ability to allocate more resources towards teaching our children.
  • The National Assembly strongly supports this legislation and its goal of freeing students from hunger so they can reach their full potential in the classroom.

Our Stance

Support

Priority

High

Bill Number

H.R.4684

Date Introduced

October 15, 2019

Committee

House Agriculture Committee

Bill Status

Introduced or Prefiled

Sponsor

Rep. Ilhan Omar