February 18, 2017 at 2:49 pm , by Alyce Wilson
Recently, I read an excellent article in the Huffington Post about the School Lunch Program and how important it is to continue a little-known aspect of the program, the Community Eligibility Program, established by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The article also referred to high-profile comments from some congressmen about the possibility of defunding the program.
Doing my own research on the program, I learned that roughly 6 million children received free lunches in impoverished school districts back in the 2014-15 school year and, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, that number was expected to increase.
Our legislators will be actively discussing the budget soon. Now is a good time to make certain they understand their constituents’ priorities. Following is a letter I sent to both my senators and to my congressman. You can find out how to contact your legislators at at USA.gov.
Feel free to use my letter as a starting point, and to share it with your friends!
As the mother of a first grader, I know the importance of proper nutrition to a child’s health. That’s why I urge you to look out for low-income children through continued funding of the Community Eligibility Program, established by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-296), which provides free lunches to the most poverty-stricken eligible school districts.
You are no doubt aware that the CEP benefits more than 14,000 high-poverty schools in more than 2,200 school districts across the country, serving more than 6 million children. Because of this program, eligible schools have greatly increased access to healthy meals while reducing paperwork for parents/guardians and administrators alike.
Thanks to the nutrition provided by the CEP, students whose schools use the program benefit from stronger thinking skills, behavior and health, all of which impact academic performance. According to the 2014 paper, “Nutrition and Student’s Academic Performance” by Wilder Research, multiple studies have demonstrated the academic benefits of healthy eating, while other studies have shown the negative impacts of junk food on academic performance.
Reducing the funding for CEP would create a hardship for the school districts and children who have come to depend on it. In contrast, continuing full funding of CEP will lead to countless benefits for the children, their schools, and by extension, our nation. Please keep CEP in mind while assessing priorities in upcoming budget discussions in Congress.