Michael H. Pazeian
Mad River Union
HUMBOLDT – New regulations will have a negative effect on many of Humboldt County’s lower-income children. It is possible many could lose free and/or reduced school breakfast and lunches.
There will be a dramatic effect on our local volunteer groups who provide food to lower income families. Deborah Waxman, M.A. of Food for People contributed the follow:
“There is approximately a $30,000 per year income gap between the federal poverty line for a family of 4 and what it takes to be self-sufficient in Eureka, Calif. In between are all the families who work and struggle to put food on the table but earn a little bit too much to qualify for nutrition assistance. BBCE acknowledged that and raised SNAP income guidelines, helping families with costly housing and childcare expenses to put food on the table. The loss of this would hit families hard, straining food banks and other providers who cannot fully make up the difference. For every meal nonprofits provide, SNAP delivers 12.”
“The potential loss of streamlined direct certification for free school meals would be huge. Not all families who qualify for free school meals fill out the application for it. BBCE alleviates a lot of stress for children, schools, and families, ensuring that kids receiving SNAP get free school meals automatically, with no paperwork or questions asked, so they can have full bellies and be prepared to focus and learn.”
The changes in this SNAP proposed rule intersect with school meal certification in that some households with school-aged children that no longer participate in SNAP will not be categorically eligible or directly certified for free school meals.
These households would instead be required to submit a household application to determine school meal eligibility, like other SNAP non-participants.
Eligibility for school meals would vary based on household income:
About 45 percent would no longer be asset eligible for SNAP but would still be eligible for free school meals because their household income is 130 percent or less of the Federal poverty level, the income threshold for free meals in NSLP and SBP.
The other 55 percent would no longer be income eligible for free school meals. However, roughly 93 percent2 of these households, or about 51 percent of all affected households, would be eligible for reduced price meals due to their household income of 185 percent or less than the federal poverty level, the income threshold for reduced-price meals in NSLP and SBP.
The remaining four percent of households with children would be eligible only for paid school meals because their household income exceeds 185 percent of the federal poverty level.
Households seeking free or reduced-price meals would need to submit an application to do so.
Most of this information is available through the FoodforPeople.org and USDA websites. You can also contact humboldtgov.org/192/Department-of-Health-Human-Services, Humboldt Counties Department of Human Services. The need for local voluntary organizations is a huge necessity. As one example, contact your local Rotary group.