--Letter from American Association of School Administrators, Council of the Great City Schools, and National School Boards Association, November 15, 2010
On August 5, 2010, the Senate approved S. 3307, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The House is expected to consider the legislation this week. Instead of simply extending and reauthorizing existing school meal programs, the Senate bill would increase federal spending on school meal programs, expand the size of government, place onerous unfunded mandates on local school districts and state governments, and allow federal bureaucrats to determine what foods children can and cannot be served at school.
ISSUES OF CONCERN
More Government Spending: Most Americans are concerned about the growth of the federal government and its impact on their family budgets. Yet, despite the nation’s current $20 billion annual investment in child nutrition assistance and record debt, S. 3307 would spend an additional $4.65 billion to create or expand 17 programs including an “organic” food pilot. The Democrats’ proposal would use borrowed money from the student supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) program in the stimulus to “pay for” the Senate bill, even as they try to find a way to restore these SNAP cuts down the road.
More Federal Government Involvement: Under the bill, the federal government will dictate what types of “nutritional” food will be served in schools. Such an expansion of government could mean that hotdogs and sodas can no longer be sold at football games, or that homemade banana bread could no longer be sold at school bake sales used as fundraisers. Overreach by the federal government takes decision making away from states, local school districts, and families.
More Unfunded Mandates: According to the American Association of School Administrators, Council of the Great City Schools, and the National School Boards Association, “U.S. Department of Agriculture studies document that school districts’ cost of providing free lunches exceeds the federal reimbursement by over thirty cents per meal, or an annual cost of $54,000 for school districts serving 1,000 students daily – the equivalent cost of retaining a teacher.” The new requirements in the child nutrition bill would increase school district costs and drain school budgets even further.
More Cost on Working Families: The bill would increase the cost of school meals to paying families. As the National Governors’ Association stated, “This bill would establish a federal mandate for every paid meal for every school in the country for the first time ever.…a provision that would also act as a disincentive for districts to hold down meal costs, price out some low-income families from paid school meals, and punish school districts that in good faith have worked to increase quality…while…holding down meal prices.”