Concerned that too many students might be getting free or reduced-price lunches, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering changing the reporting and record-keeping requirements of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

Such a move could have ramifications far beyond school cafeterias, however, because lunch status determines eligibility for a wide array of federal programs. Changes—especially more stringent procedures—could undermine access to more than $15 billion in federal education funding, including billions earmarked specifically for school technology.

Over the years, federal officials acknowledge, lunch status has become the...

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