Hundreds of thousands of kids could go without lunch if SNAP benefits are restricted

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Hundreds of thousands of kids could soon go without lunch. That’s if a plan to restrict SNAP benefits is implemented.

If this proposal goes through, we could see a huge impact, especially in Collier County where the school district says 64% of its students are enrolled in the lunch program.

That statistic alone floored parents we spoke to. If this all gets a green light, that’s a lot of students who will enter and leave school hungry.

“I think that’s a very high percentage it should be evaluated and it makes me sad,” said one parent, Megan Homan.

We asked parents like Homan if they’re surprised by how many students in Collier County Public Schools get free or reduced lunch. Homan volunteered during Hurricane Irma recovery and left with insight on what life is like for kids who truly don’t know when their next meal is going to be.

“When there was so much going on, there are so many kids that just don’t have food and they are bringing it home and feeding their other families were eating it on the way home so they had enough food,” she said.

With the USDA’s proposal, school lunch meals may be taken away.

The government says there are too many loopholes, making it expensive and keeping it form helping those who really need it.

If this proposal goes through, the USDA says it would have $2.5 billion more in its budget per year.

The Collier County Public Schools says that 64% amounts to over 30,000 students out of the 48,000 in the district on free or reduced lunch programs.

In 2017, Collier had 60% of students eligible for the program, according to a study by the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Organization.

“It has to do with people need to take care of people,” said Nancy Frye, who’s granddaughter attends school in Collier County.

She says it’s not up to the government to bear the burden and calls on the public to help.

“There are churches out there that are capable of doing things, there are different agencies that are out there that can do different things,” said Frye.

On the application to enroll in free or reduced lunch, if kids are on food stamps, they’re eligible. Otherwise, income, age and social security are used to decipher who gets help and who doesn’t.

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