22 states are suing the Department of Agriculture, leaving students hungry

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The school cafeteria has become the new battleground for federal assistance programs. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

The latest statistics show federal school lunch assistance programs service approximately 30,000 students a year. In June, Congress and President Joe Biden signed off on a law extending partial school meal waivers through this school year — just five days before they were set to expire. Many students in the United States rely on these assistance programs to provide lunch. For some, it's their only reliable and nutritious meal of the day. Now, amid the strain of rising food, gas, and labor costs, schools are facing a new issue. 

More than two dozen states are suing the Department of Agriculture. They're unhappy with a new USDA policy that prohibits any school receiving federal funding for its meal programs from discriminating against students on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. Eater reporter Amy McCarthy has more details.