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USDA Analyzes School Meal Eligibility Under Proposed SNAP Rule
USAgNet - 10/16/2019

Tuesday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a new informational analysis on its proposed rule to refine categorical eligibility requirements based on receipt of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits under Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The new informational analysis estimates the indirect impact of the proposal on school meals programs. The department is also reopening the comment period for fourteen days to provide the public an opportunity to review and provide comment on this document as part of the rulemaking record.

When USDA published the SNAP proposal in July, it provided a regulatory impact analysis that explained the rule’s direct impact on SNAP participation. Subsequently, additional analysis was requested after the proposed rule was published on the indirect impact of the rule’s changes to SNAP on school meals programs. Today, USDA is posting this analysis in the interest of public transparency.

Under National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) rules, children may be certified eligible for free or reduced-price school meals through the submission of an application, or may be determined categorically eligible for free meals based on participation in another federal assistance program, such as SNAP.

The informational analysis indicates that for children in households found to have income and assets above SNAP’s statutory eligibility, an estimated 96% of children will remain eligible for free or reduced-price meals if this proposed rule becomes final in its current form. For the remaining estimated 40,000 children – or one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of all children receiving free or reduced lunch – their family income exceeds the Congressionally-set, NSLP statutory eligibility of 185% of the federal poverty line.

The department is making the analysis available to the public on the web at www.regulations.gov. In addition, it is preparing to publish a notice in the Federal Register that will re-open the comment period for fourteen days to allow the public to provide input specifically related to the informational analysis.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works to reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets among the American people. The agency administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.

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