Cutting food stamps impacting free school lunches

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Cutting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, could impact free and reduced lunch programs for thousands of kids.

5-year-old Desi loves to play on the jungle gym at Cleveland Park. On Friday, she was there for an outing with the Trinity Children’s Center.

Brittnee Black says the kids she was chaperoning are very fortunate, but she’s worked with others that aren’t as lucky.

“I recently had to do some clinicals for school and the school that I was placed in did have some children that may not have been able to get food all the time,” Black said.

Black says kids can’t grow and learn without the proper nutrition.

“So it’s very important that they get at least some sort of balanced meal every day,” she said.

Free and reduced lunches for roughly a million kids will change under new SNAP requirements according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“So we are concerned if students are losing benefits,” said South Carolina Department of Education Health and Nutrition Director Ron Jones.

Children were automatically eligible for free and reduced school lunches if their families received food stamps, but that’s changing.

According to the U.S.D.A., those families can still participate in the program.

USDA statistics show 982,000 people will be affected. Officials say 497,000 will be eligible for reduced lunches, 445,000 families would need to reapply for free lunches and 40,000 families would end up paying full price.

“There’s no reason a child shouldn’t eat and shouldn’t have their future the best it could be,” said Rebecca Funderburk.

South Carolina school leaders tell 7News just because a student is not automatically eligible does not mean they don’t qualify.

“There are mechanisms in place here in the school lunch program to take care of children in need in South Carolina,” Jones said.

Greenville County Schools, the biggest district in the state, says they have 37,000 students participating in the free and reduced lunch program. A spokesperson tells 7News none will be impacted by the new SNAP requirements.

The Trump Administration estimates the SNAP changes will save around $5.5 billion dollars over 5 years.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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