First Coast Connect: What A New Bill To Change School Meal Plans Means For Florida

May 5, 2016

Zoe Neuberger
Credit Center on Budget and Policy

Thousands of local children who receive free or reduced meals could see that benefit go away  if the House of Representatives passes a newly proposed bill.

Senior policy analyst at the Center on Budgeting and Policy Zoe Neuberger spoke with Melissa Ross on Thursday's First Coast Connect about how changing the requirements of the Community Eligibility Program — a program that allows schools with more than 40 percent of students living in poverty to receive free or meals at a reduced cost — to 60 percent will impact children in low income areas.

“It’s a tremendous simplification for the schools and their families,” Neuberger said. “It results in more children eating school meals so they get the benefit of being better prepared to learn.”

The bill to raise eligibility requirements was proposed by Republican Todd Rokita.

The Community Eligibility Program began in 2014 and is active in more than 18,000 schools across the nation and 800 schools in Florida.

In Florida, 276 schools would be affected by this new bill. Duval County has more 100 schools that participate in community eligibility, making it the highest number in the state.  

When asked if the Center on Budget and Policy is lobbying law makers to kill this measure, Neuberger responded with a firm yes and said that the bill is still in its beginning phase, which is good for getting changes made.