Why Block Grants Are Bad for School Meals

July 20, 2016

We’ve written about why the House version of the Child Nutrition Act would roll back so much progress that’s been made in ensuring all students have access to nutritious food at school. And the most recent version of the bill includes yet another proposal that would weaken school nutrition: a pilot for block grants.

Block grants would replace the current federal funding model—in which schools are reimbursed based on how many meals they serve—with a model that would give states a set amount of funding each year. Proponents say this allows for “flexibility” and opponents say this could be disastrous for low-income students who rely on school meal programs.

The pilot proposal would allow up to three states to participate. Those states would no longer have to follow the federal meal program standards and would only have to offer one “affordable” meal each day.

We’re concerned about the funding, the removal of the meal program standards and the lack of a requirement for affordable meals. All of these concerns combined make us seriously worry about the well-being and success of our most vulnerable students.

The Congressional Budget Office warned in a report last fall that “block grants that are smaller than the funding that current legislation would provide would probably eliminate access to nutrition programs for some children and reduce it for others. Such grants would also leave the programs unable to respond automatically to economic downturns.”

Many organizations have come out against this controversial proposal and the House version of the bill in general. The School Nutrition Association is one organization that has come out against the House bill and the block grant funding proposal and created a fact sheet to support their opposition.

It’s not too late to let your representatives know you stand for healthy school food—this food fight is far from over. Healthy Schools Campaign stands for healthy school food, and we’re asking you to stand with us. We’ve made it easy for you to send a letter to your congressional representatives by simply entering your ZIP code via the following link. You can use or revise the templated letter that we’ve created, or write your own. Start your letter here.