With proposed changes to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) qualifications, parents may wonder how it may affect students in Charlotte and Sarasota counties.

Currently 18 out of 20 Charlotte schools receive free breakfast and lunch through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which provides free meals to school districts in low income areas. Those 18 schools are guaranteed to have the meals through 2022 through the CEP.

According to district spokesperson Mike Riley, “the number of directly certified students (child whose family is on food stamps-SNAP, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families-TANF or is a foster child, homeless, etc.) at both Charlotte High and Lemon Bay High is too low for the schools to qualify for all free meals via (Community Eligibility Provision).”

At Charlotte High School and Lemon Bay High School, the full price cost for breakfast is $1.20 per day and lunch is $2.80 daily.

Charlotte County Public Schools Superintendent Steve Dionisio said the change in who receives SNAP benefits could affect students who receive free or reduced meals at the non-CEP schools.

Still, most impacted households Could continue to be eligible for free and reduced price meals by filing an application for the National School Lunch Program. That would be instead of relying on automatic approval, the Miami Herald reported.

“If a family no longer receives food stamps, then the family would have to complete a meal benefits application to see if they qualify for free or reduced-price meals based on household income and the number of people in the household,” Dionisio said.

As of the 2019-2020 school year, 756 students at Charlotte High School and 373 students at Lemon Bay High School receive free lunch. At Charlotte High, 164 students receive reduced price lunch and 77 students at Lemon Bay.

The reduced price for breakfast is $0.30, and the cost for lunch is $0.40.

In Sarasota County, there are no schools that qualify entirely for free meals under the CEP.

However, 20,000 students participate in the SNAP program and receive free and reduced lunch at school.

Tracey Beeker, spokesperson for Sarasota County School District said healthy, affordable food options may be limited based on changes to legislation.

“The school district continues to watch the proposals closely and will do whatever we can to ensure our students and their families are as healthy and well-fed as possible to nourish their brains and learning aptitude,” Beeker said.


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