H.R. 5003 - Myth & Truth

Issues: Education

H.R. 5003, the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 - Myth & Truth


MYTH: H.R. 5003 denies eligible students from receiving lunches.
TRUTH: No eligible child will be denied a free or reduced lunch by H.R. 5003.  The bill changes the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which automatically enrolls entire schools or districts into a Washington program to receive free or reduced school lunches.  The current rules allow schools to enroll every student if 40% of the students qualify.  Under H.R. 5003, that number becomes 60%, a small majority.

MYTH: H.R. 5003 makes it harder for students to receive meals.
TRUTH: By changing the CEP standard, we are able to increase the rate at which breakfast is reimbursed for kids who qualify without adding to the deficit.  We are also able to expand summer meal availability for needy kids.  By making this adjustment to the CEP and the associated spending, we are able to address longstanding issues on breakfast and summer meals about which schools and education advocates have reached out to me.  

MYTH: This is a draconian measure to balance the budget on the backs of needy children.
TRUTH: By making sure that the beneficiaries of subsidized school lunches are needy children, we are able to provide needy kids with reliable nutritious meals.  This bill is about responsibly spending resources more directly on the needy kids.

MYTH: Schools will have more paperwork to fill out and will have to use lunch funds for clerical work instead of in the classroom.
TRUTH: The funds from school lunch programs do not go to classrooms.  They are used exclusively for providing nutritious meals to school children. 

MYTH: Some kids in schools will be going hungry because their parents will not fill out the paperwork.
TRUTH: Under current rules there are many schools across Indiana that do not qualify or choose to participate in the one-sized-fits all CEP program.  In the 2015-2016 school year, 36 school districts participated in the community eligibility provision  Statewide there are over 400 school districts.  With less than one in ten Hoosier schools currently participating in the program, schools across the state have figured out solutions to ensure that kids who qualify are receiving their meals.  Through outreach, schools will be able to let parents know about any paperwork they may need to complete and about the availability of better breakfasts and summer meals that my bill provides.  Richard Doar, a scholar for AEI,  discussed in the HiIl the ways that he has worked on reforms to make the paperwork easier and more private, including online applications and automated computer matches.

MYTH: The CEP is working.
TRUTH: Maybe.  But under my plan schools will be able to help more needy kids by offering breakfast and more meals during the summer.  The CEP as it stands is providing subsidized meals to schools regardless of whether a majority of students actually need it.  Much like how I support charter schools because I believe that no child should be denied an education due to their zip code, I also believe that government assistance should go to the needy and not be distributed by zip code.