Republican Proposal Targets Free School Lunch Program: What It Means for Students and Families

Some Republicans envision a future where there's no such thing as a free lunch, at least not for everyone.

The Republican Study Committee, a congressional caucus representing about three-fourths of House Republicans, recently unveiled its budget report for the 2025 fiscal year. While this budget is unlikely to pass soon, it provides insight into Republican priorities if they secure victory in November.

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One of the key proposals in the budget is to reform school lunch subsidies by scrapping the “community eligibility provision” from the federal School Lunch Program.

This provision currently funds school lunches for all enrolled , regardless of their individual needs. The proposed RSC Budget aims to eliminate this provision to ensure that school lunch assistance is targeted only towards “truly needy households,” as outlined in the report.

Currently, only nine states offer free school lunch to all students, regardless of their status. These states include California, Colorado, , Michigan, Minnesota, Maine, Massachusetts, New , and Vermont. Similar measures have been considered by lawmakers in over 20 states and , DC.

Representative Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, chair of the RSC, stated that the budget confronts the issue of growing federal debts and demonstrates that balancing the budget and operating in the black is achievable. He emphasized that conservative policies can effectively reduce spending, lower taxes, shrink the federal government, and stimulate economic .

The RSC budget proposes providing states with block grants for child nutrition programs, incorporating a phased-in state cost share to promote efficient distribution and prevent what it deems as “widespread fraud” in the programs.

However, Crystal FitzSimons, director of child nutrition programs and policy at the Food Research & Action Center, expressed concerns. She mentioned that while similar proposals have surfaced before, they struggled to gain traction because they endanger vital nutrition standards in schools and burden both schools and families with administrative work.

FitzSimons noted that over 40,000 schools currently participate in community eligibility, enabling them to offer breakfast and lunch to all students at no charge.

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