Proposed Cutbacks to School Lunches Could Affect Thousands of Alameda Students

Nearly 10,000 Alameda school kids are back in class now after a summer of freedom. Odds are that one in four isn’t always getting enough to eat.

The poverty rate for children attending Alameda schools is just over 25 percent, meaning that about 2,500 kids live in homes struggling to make ends meet. Just over 30 percent of AUSD students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. The story is similar throughout the nation.

The problem is likely to get worse before it gets better. Proposed regulations tightening eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will result in half a million school children nationwide being dropped from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s free lunch program, including many in Alameda.

Children who don’t get enough food to eat don’t do well in school. They have trouble concentrating and their brains don’t develop effectively, creating a lifelong disadvantage and fostering a cycle of poverty.

The Alameda Food Bank (AFB) exists to fill the gap left when government programs don’t go far enough to meet the needs of our neighbors who have trouble putting enough food on the table. More than 5,000 of these folks turn to us every year for help.

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to be sure they are well-nourished. If you are fortunate enough to be able to pack a healthy school lunch for your kid, give some thought to those who cannot. A donation of $1 allows AFB to purchase $7 worth of nutritious food for your kid’s classmate.