Good News for Hungry Bellies
In Texas, it's estimated that hunger affects one in five children.
This year the Texas legislature expanded eligibility for a free or reduced-price breakfast to all students at schools where 80 percent or more are children from low-income families. The change will give more students a decent nutritional start for the school day.
It all happened last May via SB 376 authored by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (Democrat of Brownsville) and House author Eddie Rodriguez (Democrat of Austin), and the new law took effect in September. A new approach to school nutrition goes nationwide next year, and the shift is expected to reduce the number of Texas students who otherwise don't get enough to eat each day.
Here's the rest of this good-news story about a public program that is set to serve the public interest more efficiently and effectively than ever:
"Under the U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative called a 'community eligibility option,' said Rachel Cooper, senior policy analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Texas, if a high percentage of a school's students are low-income, all students can receive free meals. Next year it will be nationwide, so Texas schools can start adopting community eligibility starting for the next school year,' she said. 'We have hundreds of schools who are eligible in Texas, and so we need to start spreading the word and getting them ready.” Texas' new state law will require low-income schools to offer universal breakfast.
In places where community eligibility already has been implemented, a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Food Research and Action Center called it a success. Report co-author Madeleine Levin said it's now in about 2,000 schools in a handful of states, and the number of kids receiving meals has more than doubled.
"'They saw that it really benefited the students and they were able to feed a lot more students, and to work out the changes,' she said, 'and that they were able to get the amount of reimbursement they need to break even in their school meal programs.'
Bad News for Hungry Bellies
Countless children across the country are eligible for free or reduced price lunches at school. If the government shutdown goes on too long, there’s a chance it could affect that funding. The United States Department of Agriculture reimburses each state for the costs of the lunches. The states then give that money to local school districts.
Without knowing how long the shutdown will last, school nutrition directors are keeping an eye on Washington D.C. About 40% of students in the average school district depend on the federal program. The U.S.D.A reimburses schools each month and that money is used for more than just buying apples.
According to the U.S.D.A there is enough money in the budget to reimburse schools for the rest of October. If the shutdown lasts until November, districts will have to come up with a contingency plan. The Education Department has said that a shutdown beyond a week would "severely" curtail the cash flow to school districts. Districts say they can help sustain programs for little while, drawing money from the revenue side of the budget, but it would not serve as a long term solution.There could be an end to many programs for children if the politicains in Washington do not resolve their differences soon.