SNA Press Releases

SNA Calls for Greater Access to School Meals

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                          Contact: (703) 739-3900
Erik Peterson ext. 124

SNA Calls for Greater Access to School Meals

ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 7, 2005 – About one million children living in the United States are eligible for a reduced price school lunch but do not participate in the National School Lunch Program. While the cost for that lunch is only 40 cents each day, many children cannot participate because their parents cannot afford that fee. On National Hunger Awareness Day, the School Nutrition Association calls on Congress to fund a five state pilot test to eliminate the reduced price meal category, waiving the 40 cent fee for these children.

While it seems anyone could afford 40 cents for a balanced meal, the evidence to the contrary is heart-wrenching:

  • In southwestern Virginia, foodservice directors tell of parents bouncing $2 and $3 checks intended to pay for their children’s reduced price meals.
  • According to the Military Impacted Schools Association, many children of military personnel just miss the income requirements for a free meal and often have difficulty affording the 40 cent reduced price fee. 
  • Lunch participation records show that children who purchase a reduced price lunch early on in the month often tend not to purchase those 40 cent meals towards the end of the month, only to participate again at the beginning of the next month.
  • Anecdotal evidence shows many children in the reduced price category come from welfare to work families who are improving their economic conditions.  However, their income no longer qualifies them for housing, utility or medical assistance, straining minimum wage earnings.

Last year, more than 500 school boards, state boards of education, state and national education groups, and others passed resolutions asking Congress to eliminate the reduced price category as part of the reauthorization of the federal child nutrition programs. Over 100 Congressmen and 15 Senators co-sponsored legislation that would take this step, which also harmonizes the National School Lunch Program income guidelines with those of the WIC program.

As a result of this support, a five state pilot project to test the concept was authorized as part of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, however funding is still needed. Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) has asked Congress to appropriate $29 million to fund this important pilot test. As Americans reflect on National Hunger Awareness Day, the School Nutrition Association asks Congress to fund this pilot program and reach out to the estimated 1 million children in this country eligible for reduced price meals but not participating in the program.  

The School Nutrition Association (SNA),, is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. The Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals. Founded in 1946, SNA is the only association devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing children’s health and well being through school meals and sound nutrition education.

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