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San Francisco Marin Medical Society Blog

Action Alert: USDA Proposing Changes to Categorical Eligibility to SNAP

Categorical Eligibility in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing changes to categorical eligibility to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits that will lead to 53 schools in San Francisco losing their ability to provide free school meals to all students. School meal programs have been proven to lower rates of obesity, decrease behavioral problems, and increase graduation rates. 

A 14 year old patient of SFMMS Member, Dr. Emma Steinberg, was transferred from school to school due to disruptive behavior in class and general behavioral problems.  The patient even started on medications to help control his behavior.  His behavioral issues were generally attributed to the fact that the primary caregiver, his grandmother, had a recent prolonged hospitalization.  Upon discovering that he did not have access to breakfast or dinner at home and was not in enrolled in a school meal program, Dr. Steinberg helped her patient enroll in such a program.  As a result, he was taken off medications and completed the school year in one school with improved grades.

If these changes are enacted, 18,000 local students, including Dr. Steinberg's patient, will lose access to free school meals and all of the benefits that accompany SNAP.  Please submit a comment to the USDA by November 1, 2019 voicing your concerns on the SNAP change in eligibility and the consequences such changes would bring.

Please submit your comments here.

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