According to Census data, the poorest people in America are children. And as is generally the case when figuring out how we help poor people, Republicans think we shouldn’t. They think poor people should pull themselves up by the bootstraps—even if they are kids.
Currently, a record number of poor kids are eating breakfast at school. But if Republicans in Congress have their way, they would “reform” the program to reduce the number of kids who get breakfast in school, in the name of reducing fraud. Even though studies show that kids who eat breakfast tend to have better behavior and better academic performance. But because of supposed fraud, they want to “enhance the verification process in order to increase accountability and transparency, and rein in fraud and abuse.” This makes no sense. Just who exactly is defrauding schools for free lunches? Is this like the so-called election voter fraud, which they have provided zero evidence of? For heaven’s sake, what is with Republicans and their obsession with non-existent fraud?
Under CEP, schools or school districts where 40 percent of the student body directly qualifies for free meals (via food stamps or other nutrition assistance or welfare programs) may offer those meals free to all students. The school is then reimbursed at a variable rate, according to the percentage of low-income students [...]
Despite these successes, however, CEP is not universally beloved. The program has attracted particular ire from House Republicans, who attempted to reform the program in their version of last year’s Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill. They believe CEP unfairly subsidizes the meals of kids who could afford to pay full price, at enormous cost to taxpayers, and have advocated for a 60-percent threshold to determine a school or district's eligibility. Although they were ultimately unable to raise the CEP threshold in the last Congress, they now have a Republican president, in addition to a congressional majority.
The party that says that government is too big and too bureaucratic is now using bureaucracy as an excuse to take free meals away from kids. And, of course, they never miss an opportunity to make the poor look like they are greedy and looking for a handout.
Without CEP, schools must collect applications and determine many low-income students' individual eligibility for free- or reduced-price meals based on family income. (In most states, the threshold for a family of four is $44,955 for reduced-price meals and $31,590 for free meals). That puts a considerable administrative burden on high-poverty schools, which may have to chase down applications and partial payments from thousands of children. On top of that, advocates say, restricting school breakfast to the poorest kids stigmatizes the meal.
There are so many things wrong with this. Leave it to the Republicans to want to take away free lunches from low-income kids under the guise of a burden to tax payers while vigorously supporting tax breaks for corporations and billionaires. Hillary Clinton had it right: they are truly deplorable, indeed.