Read a PDF of our statement here.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) submitted a letter asking Congress to exercise the full extent of its oversight authority in the face of proposed actions by the Trump Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that could result in over 1 million children no longer receiving free or reduced school lunches.

Under the proposed USDA rule, 3 million low-income families will no longer be eligible for food assistance benefits through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). Because families enrolled in SNAP are automatically certified to receive free school meals, this proposed rule will reduce the number of children who have automatic access to free lunch – many of whom are students of color.

LDF’s work related to school lunch programs dates back to the 1960s, when then LDF Director of Legal Information and Community Service, Jean Fairfax, was a leading voice in establishing the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). “LDF has been at the forefront of shaping how we think about our government’s obligation toward poor children,” said LDF President and Director-Counsel, Sherrilyn Ifill. “This is work that we will continue – even in the face of an administration who continues to demonstrate cruelty and indifference to the most vulnerable among us.”

For children across the country, SNAP benefits, the National School Lunch Program, and the School Breakfast Program are also critical to learning. In illustrating the connection between hunger and school outcomes, LDF Senior Policy Counsel Nicole Dooley explains, “One in seven children today faces persistent hunger, and what we know according to research is that students who struggle with hunger are also more likely to struggle with behavioral, emotional, and academic challenges. This is why we must demand that Congress make additional inquiries to understand the full extent of the harms associated with this rule.”

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Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

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