In April, Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Indiana, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, introduced a bill (H.R. 5003) to reauthorize child nutrition programs aimed at helping kids from low income families facing food insecurity. Opponents say a provision of the bill places 3.4 million students nationwide at risk of losing free meals at school, including more than 200,000 children in Florida at 276 schools.
The provision could impact schools throughout the state including schools in every county of Southwest Florida. That’s because the proposal would restrict requirements for schools’ to choose the “community eligibility” option within national school lunch and breakfast programs. The community eligibility option was set up for schools in high poverty areas to provide free meals to all students. We’ll take a closer look at the bill as we explore the plight of local families struggling to put food on the table.