'A disaster': Officials fear president's budget may leave students hungry

The Flagstaff Unified School District released a statement in response to President Trump's budget proposal, saying it could mean the difference between some students eating or going to bed hungry.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Flagstaff Unified School District described the possible effects of President Trump’s first proposed federal budget as a "disaster" for students who rely on free meals. 

It could mean the difference between some students eating, or going to bed hungry.

The president and co-founder of Feeding Northern Arizona’s Future (FNAZF), Michael Miller, said teachers often shared stories of hungry children with him. “[…] asking for food or digging through the trash trying to find food,” Miller said.

Miller said his nonprofit serves food to 200 students a weekend, giving them two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, snacks and a quart of milk.

“In all of our research, everything shows that students that don’t have food over the weekend actually don’t start learning ‘til midday Wednesday,” Miller said.

FUSD said it was grateful for the extra help from organizations like FNAZF, but the district also relied on federal funds and grants for its FACTS after-school program. That money is in danger of cuts as part of President Trump’s proposed budget.

In a statement to 12 News, the district’s assistant superintendent said, “It would be a disaster for the kids who count on the district for two meals a day.”

Thursday, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, said after-school programs feeding children with federal money weren’t keeping their promise to tax payers.

“When we took your money from you to say look we’re [going to] go spend it on an after-school program. The way we justified it was these programs are going to help these kids do better in school and get better jobs and we can’t prove that’s happening,” Mulvaney said.

Miller didn’t buy Mulvaney’s facts and said if the federal government slashed money for students to eat at school, his nonprofit would have to step up to the fill the void.

“It’d be more of a process of raising more funds so we can help more students,” Miller said.

Meals on Wheels programs for seniors were also supported by the funding this budget proposed to cut.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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