S.2692: School Modernization and Efficient Access to Lunches for Students Act of 2019

Overview

The MEALS Act (S.2692) would improve direct certification and community eligibility to increase the assessability of federally backed child nutritional programs.

Direct certification, a simplified enrollment process, allows school districts to use data matching procedures to approve eligible students for free school meals without families completing redundant applications. This bill would allocate $22 million in grant funding for states to improve their direct certification processes and $3 million to support The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) technical assistance activities, as well as an additional $2 million in grants to assist tribal organizations for establishing mechanisms for direct certification.

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows high-need school districts to offer meals at no charge to all students, eliminating the need for school meal applications. This bill would eliminate the June 30 deadline for school districts to elect CEP for the upcoming school year. The MEALS Act would also expand the eligibility timeframe from April 1st to the end of the prior school year. This change will give school districts more time to conduct data matching and ensure all students are accurately counted when filling for community eligibility.

H.R. 5283 is the House companion bill introduced by Rep. Marcia Fudge.

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Talking Points

  • The National Assembly supports this legislation because no student should be deprived of a healthy meal due to arbitrary deadlines and complicated filling processes.

Our Stance

Support

Priority

Medium

Bill Number

S.2692

Date Introduced

October 24, 2019

Committee

Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee

Bill Status

Introduced or Prefiled