Speaker of the House Paul Ryan Releases Report to Address Poverty

2016-06-08

On June 7, 2016, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan released a report, Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility. While the current, and several past, House Budget Resolutions called for converting SNAP to a block grant, that concept is not discussed in this report. The portion of the report which addresses child nutrition contains discussion of nutrition standards and the summer food program. It also calls for “funds to be given to states in exchange for flexibility within the programs," but does not explicitly mention block grants.

Some key excerpts on the policy recommendations are:

  • School meal nutrition standards must reflect the input of school leaders, meet the needs of all students, and not add new costs for schools. We must increase accountability and rein in waste, fraud, and abuse. By making sound improvements to the existing Summer Food Service Program and looking at new ways to get meals to children in need, we can help more students throughout the year and help them stay focused and ready to learn. Republican reforms incorporate ideas like seeking out better ways to run these programs, consolidating and streamlining where possible, and providing greater authority to states to meet the unique needs in each of their communities.
  • In recent years, the Department of Agriculture has put in place new rules and mandates that the federal role in child nutrition, making it even harder for states and school districts to meet the needs of their students. Sensible reforms will strengthen nutrition standards in a way that provides flexibility to state and local leaders while ensuring the nutritional needs of their students are met. Because children are not healthy if they aren’t eating, we must address participation rates and ensure any meal pattern guidelines give the appropriate flexibility for program providers to serve food children will actually eat, and are in line with science based on school aged children. This means updating the onerous, one-size-fits all requirements currently in place.
  • During the summer, food must be served to all children at a designated site (also known as “congregate sites”), which can be difficult to visit for children who live in rural areas or who lack transportation. Reforms to this requirement will allow states flexibility to better provide summer meals in rural or low-income areas without access to such summer service.
  • Reforms would empower states to streamline administration and simplify operations, allowing providers to more readily serve meals to low-income children eligible for these programs.
  • Authorizing different methods for funding child nutrition programs has been discussed for decades, but too often, a fear of change has prevented such reform. Republican reforms would permit funds to be given to states in exchange for flexibility within the programs. The added flexibility would allow states to work with local schools to determine if there are other, more effective ways to deliver healthy meals to students. We need to ensure taxpayers’ dollars are being spent to help the neediest students receive the nutrition they need to be successful in school.

The report can be found here.

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