Republicans Target School Lunches in ‘Fiscal Sanity’ Budget Plan

The Republican Party has unveiled a new plan to win over voters, and its hope lies in framing itself as the party of “Fiscal Sanity.” A few of its ideas have caused a stir, however—notably targeting free school lunches and international aid. Let’s take a look at the full story.

Republican Study Committee’s Budget Proposal

The Republican Study Committee (RSC), which includes almost three-quarters of House Republicans, has released their budget proposal this week titled “Fiscal Sanity to Save America.”

This 180-page document reflects the priorities of a large fraction of House Republicans who, among other provisions, want to eliminate the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) from the School Lunch Program. 

This has raised concerns over the impact it could have on children’s welfare. The CEP permits certain schools in low-income areas to offer free lunches to all students regardless of individual eligibility. 

Scope and Impact of the CEP

It’s only available in eight states at the moment, but it seems to be picking up momentum, with several other states interested in implementing the program. It’s been hailed as a practical solution to addressing food insecurity, but Republicans argue it’s costing too much money and isn’t helping enough people for the price. 

That money, they say, could be redirected towards households that need it most, which would avoid “widespread fraud,” which Republicans claim is rife within the CEP.

Advocates Warn Against Dismantling the CEP

This shift in approach has drawn criticism from advocates and experts, who warn against the potential consequences of dismantling successful initiatives like the CEP. The CEP has garnered widespread support among eligible schools, resulting in increased participation and improved access to nutritious meals for students across the country. 

Advocates claim that it has removed the barriers associated with means-testing students and allowed more American children to eat healthy meals than ever before. Biden has expanded it to a further 3000 districts this year.

The Fiscal Sanity to Save America budget also proposes permanently defunding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and abolishing the National Labor Relations Board, which has solidified workers’ rights to unionize under Biden’s administration.

The Ideological Divide Over Social Welfare Initiatives

The RSC’s stance reflects a longstanding ideological divide over the role of government in social welfare initiatives, particularly concerning education and child nutrition. 

Despite growing support for universal school lunch programs in various states – as seen in the success of various programs in Minnesota and the widespread public approval in Pennsylvania and Ohio – Republicans maintain their opposition.

Republicans have always had a critical stance against the universal approach to school lunch policies, which they view as inherently inefficient and “subject to widespread fraud and abuse.” 

Cato Institute Report 

This assertion stems from a report from the libertarian Cato Institute. It blames children who take “large shares of free and reduced-price meals” for the widespread 16% national fraud rate despite their families having “incomes above the cutoff levels.”

Essentially, Republicans are of the opinion that providing meals to ineligible students undercuts the program’s integrity and is a misuse of resources. Nevertheless, momentum for universal school lunch initiatives continues to build. Seven states this year have passed universal school lunch programs – California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, and Vermont. 

State Initiatives

Another 26 other states want to implement the policy and are in the midst of figuring out economically sound methods to do so. Some schools have had to innovate, like Nevada, which used leftover COVID relief funding this year to give all their students an extra year of free school meals. Multiple associations and advocacy groups are coming out in favor of CEP despite Republican disapproval.

The post Republicans Target School Lunches in ‘Fiscal Sanity’ Budget Plan first appeared on Swift Feed.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Drazen Zigic.

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