December 1, 2019

Nearly 200,000 Florida kids could lose free school lunch under food stamp rule changes [Miami Herald]

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Lautaro Grinspan of Miami Herald writes:

"Nearly 200,000 children across Florida could lose their automatic access to free school lunches under a Trump administration proposal that would limit the number of people enrolled in the federal food stamps program, formally known as SNAP.

The proposal — first announced in July by the United States Department of Agriculture — would restrict SNAP enrollment by taking away states’ ability to tweak some income and asset limits for households that receive both food stamps and other welfare benefits.

In Florida, that flexibility had allowed the state’s Department of Children and Families to raise the threshold for SNAP qualification, letting households with incomes up to 200 percent of the poverty level receive food stamps — among the highest in the nation.

Children would be among the hardest hit because SNAP participation also grants them automatic access to free school lunches, a provision that’s part of the USDA’s National School Lunch Program. In Florida, the number of kids that would be subject to losing both their food stamps and their automatic eligibility for free lunches at school stands at 195,888, with some counties affected more than others.

Among the places where the policy change could take a big toll is Miami-Dade, where 71 percent of the student body is enrolled in the National School Lunch Program. That’s the fifth-highest percentage in the state, according to the nonpartisan Florida Policy Institute.


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