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Two pending rule changes meant to reduce what the Trump administration calls abuse of federal benefit programs could also mean hundreds of thousands of children lose access to free school meals.
The first proposed change: The Trump administration wants to tighten states' standards for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. States have long been able to simplify enrollment in SNAP, allowing families who live near poverty to apply for the benefit with less paperwork and somewhat more flexible rules to qualify. But the administration believes some households are getting benefits they don't deserve.
"Too often, states have misused this flexibility without restraint," said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in July, when the change was proposed. "That is why we are changing the rules, preventing abuse of a critical safety net system, so those who need food assistance the most are the only ones who receive it."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's proposal would force states to tighten SNAP enrollment standards. As a result of the proposed change, USDA estimates more than 3 million people would lose access to food stamps.
"The truth is, the real impact of this rule on school lunches is virtually zero," Sam Adolphsen told the House Oversight Committee earlier this month. He's policy director for the Foundation for Government Accountability, a nonprofit group. "In fact, in 34 states, not one single child will lose their school lunch eligibility as a result of this rule."
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