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#91
Posted April 28th 2010, 5:25am
I thought this article may be of interest to followers of this thread, rather than starting a new one.

It’s a sad day for Happy Meals in Santa Clara County - LA Times (link) wrote:County officials vote to ban toys and other promotions that restaurants offer with high-calorie children’s meals.

.... "This ordinance prevents restaurants from preying on children's' love of toys" to sell high-calorie, unhealthful food, said Supervisor Ken Yeager, who sponsored the measure. "This ordinance breaks the link between unhealthy food and prizes."

Voting against the measure was Supervisor Donald Gage, who said parents should be responsible for their children.

"If you can't control a 3-year-old child for a toy, God save you when they get to be teenagers," he said. Gage, who is overweight, said he was a living example of how obese children can become obese adults.

But he questioned the role of fast-food toys. "When I was growing up in Gilroy 65 years ago, there were no fast-food restaurants," Gage said.
...

(article continues - click on article title above to follow link)
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#92
Posted April 28th 2010, 9:41am
I read the article. One has to wonder what went so terribly wrong with the CPS in that they have a "Social Justice High School".


I was actually at Social Justice High School yesterday for a discussion program we were doing with students on school lunches. Social Justice (or SoJo as they call it) is one of four schools in the Little Village Lawndale High School, the school that grew out of a parent hunger strike a few years ago. Some background here:

Little Village Lawndale High School Campus

There are several students at SoJo organizing a campaign for better and healthier lunches and planning a school garden. They actually had a Chartwell’s company person at the discussion who was listening and taking lots of notes and responding to criticisms.

As noted over in the events board, one of the short films that won our Looking for Democracy Film Contest – “Hungry for Change” - is on food deserts and was produced by a group of students in North Lawndale. Interestingly, I was interviewed by another student yesterday working on another documentary on food deserts. Signs of an ever-growing movement among students?

Info on the film screening where you can see “Hungry for Change” is here.

http://www.prairie.org/events/23717/art ... -screening
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#93
Posted May 10th 2010, 10:39am
So waddaya think of the Texas school that gave a girl a week's detention for having a piece of candy?
http://www.khou.com/news/Candy-Gets-Thi ... 33319.html

The school has a policy of no "minimally nutritious foods."
The policy also has an exception, that they do not restrict what parents provide for their own children.
The catch here is that one child gave candy to another, which isn't covered by the exception. Hence, a week in the hole.

Boy, I'm glad I don't liive in Texas.
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What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
-- Lin Yutang
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#94
Posted May 10th 2010, 11:13am
Interesting: here's a link to the Brazos Elementary school lunch menu, easily available with a websearch. Note that the breakfast menu includes (branded) Pop-Tarts, "pancake wraps," etc. for breakfast, while the lunch menu includes chicken fried steak and "corn chip pie" (which I concede might be better than they sound.)

I know of a local situation where an ISBE representative wrote an "unfavorable report" at a school because a school raffle included a sundae party as a prize, and a staffer had given some children a cookie as a reward - not that those things are ideal, but considering lunches contain a sugary item nearly every day (especially if you include flavored milk) and these one-time situations, the reaction didn't seem to be proportionate. There is an awful lot of do-as-I-say-but-not-as-I-do and quite a bit of finger-pointing in school lunch, and I notice that the more active parents are regarding lunch, the more likely the district is to point the finger at them and their school.

That being said, (while I am in no way suggesting the above school handled things well) trading foods at lunch can be a real problem: recently a friend's kid got sick at school: he has a severe peanut allergy, and a kind friend offered to share his candy bar. Fortunately, the school is set up to deal with food allergies, did so promtly, and no harm was done, but there are some legitimate reasons to crack down on food trading.
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#95
Posted June 4th 2010, 7:08pm
Are you a Chef who wants to make sure the next generation still appreciates good food? You can get in on the ground floor with the USDA's new program, Chefs Move to Schools! Just go to the linked website and sign up, you can adopt a school and bring your expertise to the school nutritionists, the kids, and the teachers.

This is a fantastic idea - my feeling has been from the first that we need chefs in schools rather than nutritionists - after all, the nutrition requirements are essentially built into the program, it's turning those requirements into edible food that is the real challenge - and the logistics and planning involved are a chef's job. I hope to see some of the chefs I've met here on LTH signing up to participate in this program - I'm trying to get our school district to sign up.
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#96
Posted June 4th 2010, 8:04pm
Oy, is that chef/school map ever hard to decipher! I did find that Milwaukee's Beard award-winning Sandy D'Amato is participating, as is Rick Bayless, of course; I also found Mary Sue Milliken in LA, Todd English in Boston, and my beloved Robert del Grande in Dallas. But surprisingly (or maybe not?), Alice Waters isn't. Hmmmm.
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#97
Posted June 7th 2010, 4:48pm
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LAZ
Please see this thread on LTHForum's new Terms of Service
for why my photos and other portions of my posts have been removed
Index to LTHForum Recipes, 2004-2008
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#98
Posted July 3rd 2010, 1:13pm
Tom Colicchio recently testified in front of Congress' Committee on Education and Labor on the topic of the Improving Nutrition for America's Children Act. His testimony is available as a PDF transcript

Here are a few quotes I thought particularly interesting:
Tom Colicchio wrote:I’m here before you as a father to 17 year-old Dante and 11 month-old Luka. My kids, like kids everywhere, are more than happy to slurp down junk food and empty calories – pizza, sodas, candy and deep-fried anything. But the fact that they would eat this whenever doesn’t give me permission to shrug my shoulders and say, ‘well, that’s what they want!’ It’s my job as a parent to make sure they have a variety of real, nutritious foods served to them at every meal so that they grow into robust, healthy kids capable of meeting their full potential in life. And yet, I hear people say, “we’d like to improve school lunch, but all the kids want to eat are pizzas and burgers. If we give them good food they won’t eat it” Come on, people! We’re the adults. It’s up to us to do better.

Tom Colicchio wrote:Without regular exposure to real food – made from whole ingredients in a variety of textures, shapes, and colors – these children never develop a preference for healthy food, and thus perpetuate the cycle of poor nutrition that can lead to a lifetime of costly and debilitating health problems like obesity and diabetes, not to mention their lost potential as active, healthy citizens.

-Dan
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#99
Posted August 5th 2010, 10:43pm
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act passed the Senate today and will now move on to the House.

From the Agriculture Committee, where the bill originated, here is a summary of its major provisions:

* Expanded After-School Meals for At-Risk Children Nationwide: For the vast majority of states, the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) at-risk after-school program only provides reimbursement for a snack. This section will allow communities in all 50 states to be reimbursed for a meal.
* Expanded Universal Meal Service: This new option will allow schools in high-poverty areas to offer free meals to all students without collecting paper applications, which will expand access to more children and reduce administrative burdens on schools.
* Increasing the Number of Eligible Low-Income Children with School Meals: Children whose families receive SNAP benefits are directly certified for free school meals. This provision will expand the direct certification process to include Medicaid in select districts in the U.S.
* Automatically Enrolling Foster Children for Free School Meals: This section will add foster children to the list of those that are automatically eligible for free meals, eliminating the need for foster children to demonstrate their income when applying for school meal benefits.
* Promoting the Availability and Locations of Summer Meal and Breakfast Sites: This provision will require school food authorities to coordinate with institutions operating the Summer Food Service Program to develop and distribute materials to families to inform them of the availability and location of summer meal sites and school breakfast sites.
* Piloting Innovative Methods to Provide Nutrition to Hungry, Low-Income Children: The bill provides mandatory funding to test pilot projects to improve methods of providing nutritious foods to hungry children, including during out-of-school times.


The bill is deficit neutral, paid for mostly by cuts to SNAP...which is sort of interesting.

Any thoughts from those who know more about this than me?
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-Josh

I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
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#100
Posted August 6th 2010, 8:13am
There are two other important things about this bill: it increases the reimbursement rate schools receive for lunches by about 6 cents (the first increase in inflation-adjusted funding in nearly 40 years). Most of the cost of the bill derive from this, not from the increased number of children who will qualify for subsidized lunches.

The second thing that the law does is give the Department of Agriculture authority to set higher nutritional standards for food served in schools, including food sold at vending machines and other places that are not officially part of the school lunch program (i.e. the so-called "competitive foods").

Apparently the cuts in funding for SNAP are from funds allocated to 2013 and beyond. I think there is an idea that this funding can be restored before then. But who knows.

Here is the Senate's summary of the bill itself: http://dpc.senate.gov/dpcdoc.cfm?doc_name=lb-111-2-134
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#101
Posted August 6th 2010, 8:24am
What I liked about this bill is the incentive program: something that we'd asked about way back when we started this process. My concern was that if the schools got more money, the factory food providers would just raise their prices, and we'd be paying more for less; the fact that the 6 cents is tied to better standards is very helpful.

Reading the summary, it looks like little has been changed from the initial bill except the funding sources mentioned by Darren72. I like this bill - while it isn't the sweeping change some wish for, it seems like a very reasonable start.
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#102
Posted September 27th 2010, 6:50pm
Hi- I am hoping that this is the right place to post this. I noticed that both the North and South Evanston Whole Foods locations are collecting money to implement a salad bar in at least one Evanston public school. I assume they mean elementary school. It would cost too much money for WF to implement a salad bar at ETHS. The more money they collect, the more schools that get salad bars. I think you give them the money for the program when you check out. I don't know if Whole Foods is going to match the money received from their customers. Hope this helps, Nancy
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#103
Posted September 27th 2010, 7:43pm
Interesting - did WF say which school? I think this is a national program, but the District has to agree to it for it to be implemented and so far as I know, our District has not (It may well be the high school; I think they already have a salad bar.)
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#104
Posted September 27th 2010, 8:04pm
Hi- WF just mentioned that they were setting up a salad bar in at least one school in Evanston, and possible more. depending on how much money they raise. This leads me to believe that they are talking about an elementary school. They did not name the school. Hope this helps, Nancy
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#105
Posted September 27th 2010, 8:43pm
Hi- I just looked on Whole Foods site, and so far nationally they have raised $1,228,689. The South Evanston store has raised $1,496, and the North Evanston store has raised $3,690. It sounds like they only accept donations at the stores through this Wednesday, 9/29. Hope this helps, Nancy
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#106
Posted September 29th 2010, 8:45am
In a move that I can only describe as bone-headed, the Senate has voted to fund the Child Nutrition Act by cutting SNAP benefits...not a small cut, either: $59 per year per person.

I am all for balanced budgeting and finding places to cut to fund initiatives that cost money...but this move makes no sense at all to me. More of my thoughts and more background here.
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#107
Posted September 29th 2010, 10:20am
This happened about two months ago - see above. As I wrote above, the cuts in SNAP come in the future and the idea among many legislators is to restore the cuts later.
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#108
Posted September 29th 2010, 11:58am
I would be less bothered by the cuts to SNAP if they came from streamlining the program, or finding other ways to get food benefits to the needy (for instance, distributing commodity foods like the ones used by the NSLP,) which is what I had assumed was the case when I first saw the legislation - but a cut to SNAP benefits for end-users makes no sense at all.

My suggestion is that we should be looking at feed grain subsidies. I'm not sure why we are continuing to use tax dollars to support foods that most people, including the USDA nutritionists, agree should play a smaller role in our diet - and which contribute to the malnutrition issues the CNA and SNAP are in part trying to address.
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#109
Posted March 17th 2011, 3:00pm
I will be posting this on the events board when we get nearer to the time, but a friend of mine who's been equally frustrated with school lunch is hosting a screening of the documentary Lunch Line, with a panel discussion following. Panel discussion should be interesting, as I'm on it, along with a number of other food and health activists in Evanston...and our district's superintendent.

I may bring nachos and waffles to throw, but I don't promise.

Time: Saturday, April 30 · 2:00pm - 5:00pm
Location: Evanston Public Library 1703 Orrington Avenue Evanston, I
L

Lunch Line is a documentary film that reframes the school lunch debate through an examination of the program's surprising past, uncertain present, and possible future. This screening is being co-sponsored by the Center for Civic Engagement at Northwestern University and the Evanston Public Library.

To see the trailer for the film click here: http://lunchlinefilm.com/

In the film, six kids from one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago set out to fix school lunch and end up at the White House.

Their unlikely journey parallels the dramatic transformation of school lunch from a weak patchwork of local anti-hunger efforts to a robust national feeding program. The film tracks key moments in school food and child nutrition from 1940s, 1960s, and 1980s to the present – revealing political twists, surprising alliances, and more common ground than people realize.

Along the way, Senators, Secretaries of Agriculture, entrepreneurs, and activists from across the political spectrum add top-down perspective to a bottom-up film about the American political process, the health and welfare of its future, and the realities of feeding more than 31 million children a day.

Please note: the film will be followed by a panel discussion with Hardy Murphy, District 65 superintendent of schools; Debbie Hillman, chair of the Evanston Food Policy Council; Rochelle Davis, president and CEO of the Healthy Schools Campaign; and Michele Hays, a District 65 parent who writes a blog about food education and food security.
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#110
Posted March 17th 2011, 4:26pm
Mhays wrote:I will be posting this on the events board when we get nearer to the time, but a friend of mine who's been equally frustrated with school lunch is hosting a screening of the documentary Lunch Line, with a panel discussion following. Panel discussion should be interesting, as I'm on it, along with a number of other food and health activists in Evanston...and our district's superintendent.

I may bring nachos and waffles to throw, but I don't promise.

Time: Saturday, April 30 · 2:00pm - 5:00pm
Location: Evanston Public Library 1703 Orrington Avenue Evanston, I
L

Lunch Line is a documentary film that reframes the school lunch debate through an examination of the program's surprising past, uncertain present, and possible future. This screening is being co-sponsored by the Center for Civic Engagement at Northwestern University and the Evanston Public Library.

To see the trailer for the film click here: http://lunchlinefilm.com/

Good luck, Michele. I hope I can make the screening--looks like a great program you've put together. To add to your nachos and waffles, I'll bring some of the french fries from my son's high school. A few pictures on the Lunch Line website are from Alcott School, where I attended kindergarten back in the last millennium.
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#112
Posted May 17th 2011, 11:22am
What are kids actually eating from the lunchroom tray? A study in San Antonio aims to answer this.
For decades, the USDA has surveyed Americans about what they eat, and shared that information with researchers and policymakers. It would be helpful to have a better method, said Treviño, director of the Social and Health Research Center here.

“Everything is self-reported, and self-reported information is very inaccurate,” Treviño said. “People tell you what you want to hear. Parents aren't going to tell us the truth, that they're feeding the children high (levels of) sugars or fatty food.”

Thus the idea to use sophisticated cameras — two at the cash register, two more at the disposal window — to take before-and-after photos of trays, and develop equally sophisticated software to analyze the results.

Each set of cameras captures an overhead and side view, to better determine food volume. Trays also are weighed to help with the calculations.

This method is a bit creepy, it seems to me, and the study is hardly randomized or blind.
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#113
Posted May 22nd 2011, 4:48am
Excuse me, if this has been already discussed. As a kid growing up in Boston, many years ago, there was a program called the Federal Bag Lunch Program (one of the more inspired aspects of Johnson's War on Poverty). As I recall, every student was eligible, regardless of income. There was no such thing as elementary school cafeterias back then, and kids just ate lunch at their desks. For a nominal fee, a kid could pay to receive a week's worth of lunches that came in white paper bags. The lunches usually consisted of two halves of different sandwiches, a piece of fruit (or a cup of pineapple or melon), celery or carrots, milk and a cookie. A mid-morning snack was also delivered. On rare occassions, something special like a slice of pizza, a hotdog or ice cream was included. As I recall, the lunches were pretty darn good, and because the program was open to all students, there was no stigma about particpating. Most parents opted to join the program for the sheer convenience. The fact that so many students opted into the program, also cut down on "lunch trading".

The food was prepared offsite, then the bags were assembled at the schools. This assembly, and the distribution of the lunches to each classroom was done by students under the supervision of part-time school staff. Only 5th and 6th graders were eligible to work on the program. The younger students would look up to the guy that delivered the lunches to the classrooms, so as I recall, there was a certain amount of status associated with being a "lunch boy" (unfortunately, I think girls were allowed to assemble the lunches, but not deliver the baskets full of bags). The students also got out of an hour or two of classes, so there was an added motivation to participate. It was up to the individual 5th and 6th grade teachers to select the students who participated. Most teachers used the program as a motivational tool, so students would compete academically for the privilege of participating. In fact, I think only the more academically motivated students were allowed to participate, since the students were expected to keep up with the missed classtime. This added to the feeling of being elite among those selected to participate (and for once kids were rewarded for being smart instead of strong). Students were assigned for a week at a time and were limited to the number of weeks they could work on the program.

I recall my parents saying that the program was so popular, it nearly paid for itself, despite receiving a federal subsidy (my father served on the district school board). In fact, a majority of district families participated. It seems that with more time-constrained two income households, it would be even more popular these days. Anyhow, I was wondering if the program was only in Boston, or was it a nation-wide thing? It was an effective way of delivering nutritious meals to kids without making a big deal out of restricting "parental rights". It made a lot of sense, and did not require a lot of arm twisting to get families to participate in a voluntary propgram, because of the convenience and cost. Unfortunately, I am afraid that kid's are too picky these days (read:spoiled) to accept the "potluck" aspect of the program. Does anybody else remember this short-lived federal initiative?
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#114
Posted June 21st 2011, 11:41am
d4v3 wrote:As a kid growing up in Boston, many years ago, there was a program called the Federal Bag Lunch Program (one of the more inspired aspects of Johnson's War on Poverty). As I recall, every student was eligible, regardless of income.
Does anybody else remember this short-lived federal initiative?

I do not remember this program in the Chicago Public Schools. I walked (!) home, ate lunch, and walked the 3 1/2 blocks back to school every day. Just typing this makes me feel old.

However, a USDA pilot program would, presumably, move towards erasing any stigma of getting free lunch daily in school. Illinois is a pilot state, but it remains to be seen if the 800-lb. gorilla district, CPS, will participate.

Some schools will serve free meals to all, thanks to new federal program

Any school in Illinois where at least 40 percent of students are needy will be able to serve free meals to all children, regardless of family income, starting this fall as part of a pilot program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. . . . Designed to cut paperwork for school officials and streamline the process of obtaining free meals for needy families, the program is scheduled to be rolled out nationwide by the 2014-15 school year. At schools where the vast majority of students already receive free meals, the program would be nearly undetectable. But in schools where up to 60 percent of the students do not receive any public aid, it has the potential to bring about a culture shift.

Nothing here, alas, about the quality of the free meals.
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#115
Posted June 21st 2011, 12:02pm
This is an interesting strategy - essentially it would undercut the current system that depends on the full-price kids to make the finances work (a driver of the food choices: they are designed to appeal to the kids who pay full-price in order to be financially sustainable. Since parents don't typically make the choices at school, sugary, salty, fatty foods "hook" more full-price kids.)

The summer lunch program works on this model, though it is localized to areas that qualify - and the food is better. The breakfast program works on a similar model, except that it isn't a very popular program - so again, the food is driven by the kids' taste preferences and not by good nutrition or quality. (More kids = more reimbursement = more possible economies of scale)

A simpler policy solution than universal lunch might be to equalize the payment/reimbursement amounts - right now, the federal government reimburses at three different rates, and there are regulations that determine how much can be charged beyond the reimbursement rate.
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#116
Posted June 21st 2011, 12:10pm
Mhays wrote:This is an interesting strategy - essentially it would undercut the current system that depends on the full-price kids to make the finances work (a driver of the food choices: they are designed to appeal to the kids who pay full-price in order to be financially sustainable. Since parents don't typically make the choices at school, sugary, salty, fatty foods "hook" more full-price kids.)


Emphasis is mine

There's no particular reason why a particular school's lunch system has to have a balanced budget/be financially sustainable. Are the art class or the math class financially sustainable?
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#117
Posted June 21st 2011, 12:42pm
Darren72 wrote:
Mhays wrote:This is an interesting strategy - essentially it would undercut the current system that depends on the full-price kids to make the finances work (a driver of the food choices: they are designed to appeal to the kids who pay full-price in order to be financially sustainable. Since parents don't typically make the choices at school, sugary, salty, fatty foods "hook" more full-price kids.)


Emphasis is mine

There's no particular reason why a particular school's lunch system has to have a balanced budget/be financially sustainable. Are the art class or the math class financially sustainable?

I completely agree with you, but your point depends on the idea that feeding students lunch is as much the mission of the public school as teaching art or math. There are plenty of people (just check the nasty comment on the Trib website following the article I linked to above) who think providing lunch is exclusively a parental responsibility, whether the parents are capable of assuming that responsibility or not. If the district can say the meals program is a wash financially, presumably it garners more support. Again, I fully support subsidizing healthy meals for schoolchildren as part of the mission of a school district that serves children who need affordable and nutritious food.
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#118
Posted June 21st 2011, 1:13pm
Actually, yes there is - because it is a federal program, the lunch program's finances stand alone from all the other school services. It's an extremely complex system, because the line where labor is part of the lunch program or part of the school's budget is difficult to draw - for instance, who pays for the district's HR time to hire labor in the lunchroom?

This is one of the reasons why scratch cooking can be impossible when it comes to school lunch: the federal government funded some kitchen-building sometime in the 60s when the program was first implemented fully, and then has provided no funds outside the reimbursement rate to maintain those kitchens. We often hear that current reimbursement rates barely cover operating costs.

Districts either have to find money in their capitol improvement plans to pay for upgrades, or they do without. Some districts and states (surprise, surprise - Illinois is 49th nationally in how much it supports this program) cover some costs outside the program, but many use the Federal reimbursement and the money kids pay to cover all the associated costs of lunch. Here's an extremely complex memo on the subject, see page 9 for specifics, keeping in mind that each state also has regulations on allowable costs, so this document is not the final say.

(edited to correct link, sorry)
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#119
Posted June 21st 2011, 1:21pm
Some schools will serve free meals to all, thanks to new federal program

Any school in Illinois where at least 40 percent of students are needy will be able to serve free meals to all children, regardless of family income, starting this fall as part of a pilot program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. . . . Designed to cut paperwork for school officials and streamline the process of obtaining free meals for needy families, the program is scheduled to be rolled out nationwide by the 2014-15 school year. At schools where the vast majority of students already receive free meals, the program would be nearly undetectable. But in schools where up to 60 percent of the students do not receive any public aid, it has the potential to bring about a culture shift.

Nothing here, alas, about the quality of the free meals.[/quote]


Free lunch? Someone has to pay fir it. Someone should write a book about that...
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#120
Posted June 21st 2011, 1:28pm
Just realizing that I didn't answer the question entirely - so, since it's essentially a stand-alone program, you can't juggle numbers with the school budget and add some to the lunch program like you could with math or reading. The reimbursement rate and student payment is completely separate from the school district's budget. Cash-strapped districts faced with cutting instructors are not about to touch a line item that has its own income.

I have heard that some districts use their capitol improvement money to pay for kitchen upgrades, though.
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