MAPLE HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - Thousands of students could lose free breakfast and lunch at school if a new bill makes it through the House and Senate.
It's a national concern that could affect many, right here in Northeast Ohio.
For some students, school is where they eat their only meals of the day.
But H.R. 5003 passed by the House Education and the Workforce Committee would change that.
Congressman Marcia Fudge (D-OH) represents the 11th district and says she opposes. She says this bill will take free breakfast and lunch from 45 schools in her district including Cleveland and Akron. More than 17,000 students would be affected.
"What's really going to happen is kids are going to get kicked off the free and reduced lunch program," she said.
The current provision gives free meals if at least 40% of the students enrolled at the school are eligible for federally subsidized meal programs.
The new bill would require an application process and raise the threshold to 60%, potentially leaving thousands of students hungry.
At JFK Elementary in Maple Heights, 100% of the students in the district receive free breakfast and lunch. New changes could have a huge impact.
"To take free and reduced lunch away I think would be devastating to the children. It's supposed to be about the kids, making sure that they're learning," said Principal Zelina Pames.
Congresswoman Fudge tried to amend the bill but was voted down. She says now, parents and students need to speak up.
"People are so busy trying to cut the budget that they don't care who it hurts. So we have to find a way as a nation to say to the congress of the united states that feeding hungry kids is important," she said.
Ohio ranks 420 out of 436 for the poorest districts in the US.
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