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Congressman Scott is Trying to Defend Free or Reduced-Price School Lunches

AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

One Virginia congressman is fighting against the Trump administration’s efforts to limit free or reduced-price lunches in public schools.

Congressman Bobby Scott of Newport News is pushing back against a Trump administration proposal to limit the availability of free or reduced-price lunches.

Here’s Scott, who’s chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, questioning Department of Agriculture official Brandon Lipps about the proposal.

Scott asked, “Did I understand that you mentioned there’d be savings with the change that you are making?”

“Yes sir,” Lipps responded.

Scott again asked, “Are those savings generated by fewer children having access to free school meals?”

“It’s generated by children who do not qualify for free and reduced-price meals not getting free meals at school,” said Lipps.

The way the community-eligibility program works now, a school division that has high poverty can offer free lunches to all students in all schools, whether they qualify or not. That’s intended to take the stigma away from children who have to prove they live in poverty to eat lunch.

The Trump administration wants to eliminate the ability of entire school divisions from participating in the program. That would upend the free lunch program at 13 schools in Virginia, leaving a potential 4,000 students without a free or reduced-price lunch.

Scott says that would be a mistake, and he says he’ll be working against that part the Trump budget proposal, even if it does save a little money.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.
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