100,000 Florida children at risk of losing free lunches


FILE – In this Wednesday, July 10, 2019 file photo, 6-year-old elementary school students go through the lunch line in the school’s cafeteria in Paducah, Ky. Nearly a million students could lose their automatic eligibility for free school lunches under a Trump administration proposal that’s expected to reduce the number of people who get food stamps. In October 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released an analysis finding as many as 982,000 children could be affected by the change. (Ellen O’Nan/The Paducah Sun via AP)

ORLANDO, Fla. (WESH) —A Trump administration proposal could eliminate meals for hundreds of thousands of Florida children.

The proposal impacts SNAP benefits, reducing the number of people benefiting from federal food assistance.

Staff at the Second Harvest Food Bank said changes could bring some consequences.

“For every meal that SNAP puts out into the community, food banks just like Second Harvest put out the equivalent of nine meals, so any idea that we would be able to meet that need is just unrealistic,” said Kelly Quintero, who works with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

She said they are preparing for the proposal that would bring changes and possibly more people to their doors.

The move proposed from the U.S. Department of Agriculture would effectively lower the number of people who would qualify for food stamps, with stricter requirements on factors such as income.

Those changes would also impact how many kids qualify for free meals at school.

“The rough estimate is that about 157,000 children in Florida would be affected by this. Because that now means if their parent or guardian doesn’t fill out that form, then at no issue to them, they’re not able to receive free school breakfast or free school lunch,” Quintero said.

There is only speculation why the guidelines are being put in place.

“I’m sure that It comes from a lot of wanting to make sure that individuals are on a path of self sufficiency, but if we reduce this program, those individuals that are on a path of self sufficiency are going to be a few steps back now,” Quintero said.

Quintero said they have heard there could be a finalized rule coming from the federal government on the proposal sometime by the end of this year, and possibly as early as later this week.

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