LD 362: Resolve, To Require the Department of Education to Form a Family Income Data Collection Working Group
Bill Sponsor | Presented by Representative Michael Brennan
Status | Signed into law!
ABOUT THE BILL: This bill directs the Maine Department of Education (DOE) to convene a legislative work group to examine alternative ways for schools to collect income data from families.
WHY DOES MAINE NEED TO COLLECT FAMILY INCOME DATA AND WHY DO WE NEED AN ALTERNATIVE METHOD?
- In order to receive federal funding to support school meal programs and other critical educational programs, Maine school districts must collect family income data.
- This task usually falls on the shoulders of school nutrition staff via a “meal benefit application,” taking up a lot of administrative time that could be better spent on activities more directly related to feeding children.
- The current method of collecting this information results in inaccurate and incomplete data, which potentially means fewer federal dollars flowing to Maine schools impacting important educational programs, Title 1 funding, and school nutrition budgets.
- Earlier this school year, Maine DOE reported a gap of 17,000 missing school meal applications from previously eligible students in school year 19/20.
- When a family doesn’t return their application and also isn’t able to pay for school meals, school meal debt can accrue.
- Family income data impacts a community’s eligibility to provide meals through summer and afterschool meal programs.
- The current method of requiring a family to share income data is often wrapped up in shame and stigma.
- USDA requires that family income data is collected via school meal benefit applications in order for school nutrition programs to receive federal reimbursement, so in order to take this off the shoulders of school nutrition staff the alternative method of collecting family income data may need to be an approved pilot program in partnership with USDA FNS.
For more information, contact Full Plates’ Director of Advocacy, Anna Korsen