Aid for Underprivileged Students
by Charity Bailey
As poverty becomes an increasing problem in the United States, many families are forced to turn to federal, state, or community assistance when it comes to helping their children with meals, after-school programs, schools supplies, and sports equipment. Unfortunately, many families do not know what programs are in place to help, or how to qualify for such programs. The following gives a brief rundown of resources that are available to low-income children.
For children of low-income families there are a few nutritional food service options in place per the requirement of the United States Federal Government. First of all, there is SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP is also known as the food stamp program, and allows for the purchase of food with government funds. The amount of food a family can purchase depends on the family’s size and income.
Children of low-income families can also apply for free or discounted school meals. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (signed by President Obama), has upped the standards of nutrition for school meals on a national level. In addition to SNAP and school meals, the federal government also funds WIC to help feed low-income children. WIC stands for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. Not only does it provide nutritious food to low-income children aged five and under, it also provides resources and food supplements to pregnant and nursing women, as well as referrals and healthcare.
There is a growing concern for low-income children, particularly after school hours. The Boys and Girls Club of America has been a fundamental player in addressing this concern, serving children since 1900. The organization focuses on character and leadership development, education and career development, health and life skills, the arts, and sports and fitness. Not only does the club operate throughout the school year, they also have a variety of affordable summer camp options and tutoring services. Most states also have state-funded programs that are in place for children of low-income families for after-school activities. For example, there are job corps for teens, community action programs, “neighborhood house” programs (transportation to and from school, and after-school activities), and the YWCA and YMCA.
Supplies and Equipment
There are no federal programs in place that allocate funds specifically to low-income families for the purchasing of school supplies. However, federal funding is in place for Title I schools. Title I refers to a public school where 40 percent of the students or more are qualified as low income. Grants for Title I schools can be used to “upgrade [the] entire education programs to improve achievement for all students, particularly the lowest-achieving students.” Therefore, the grants can be used to purchase anything from pencils and sports equipment to compensating staff members.
The eligibility requirements for these programs are independent of one another and can vary depending on the city and state where the child is applying. For nutritional assistance, qualification is dependent upon the number of dependents a family has and income. Qualification for the National School Lunch program requires that children must come from families with an income at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level. After-school programs are dependent upon the state and the organization. To apply for SNAP or the free school lunch program, you can visit your local SNAP office or talk to school administrators, who can point you in the right direction.
About the Author
This article was provided by Charity Bailey, environmental studies major and social programs supporter. If you’re a low-income individual in a legal bind, Charity recommends contacting Chernoff Law, a Houston criminal defense law firm.