Time for government to provide free meals to all school kids

first_imgCategories: Editorial, OpinionWhen we think of childhood hunger, we usually think of famine-stricken countries abroad or our own industrial-era past.But even in 2018, one in five American children lives in a “food insecure” household — i.e., where the USDA says “consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources.”This doesn’t mean that 20 percent of children in America are literally starving to death.But kids don’t need to be emaciated to suffer the effects of long-term malnutrition.When kids lack proper meals, it doesn’t just mean an uncomfortable day. It negatively impacts their ability to learn in school. Cognition, retention, test scores, classroom focus and attendance are all demonstrably affected by childhood hunger.Fortunately, there are options for “food insecure” kids.Families meeting certain criteria (e.g., whose income is below 133 percent of the poverty line) are able to apply for subsidized free or reduced-price (F/RP) meals. Sixty-two percent of public-school students qualify.Unfortunately, many kids still fall through the gaps.Of the 1.39 million children in New York who qualified for F/RP meals in 2015–16, about 1.06 million participated in the lunch program and just 484,000 participated in breakfast.Gov. Andrew Cuomo has taken note, proposing the “No Student Goes Hungry” program, which addresses the enrollment gap in a number of ways and generally improves mealtime at school.First, it ends “lunch shaming,” a perverse Dickensian practice where schools torment kids with wristbands, chores or cold meals for getting F/RP meals or racking up meal debts. Sure, it’s nice to believe that success is just a factor of effort and personal responsibility. And nobody wants to create lazy people who are dependent on handouts.But children are already dependents.Whatever you think of adults on government assistance, kids are not welfare queens suffering from moral failure. There are no “sins of the father” when it comes to school lunch.Poor kids often already grow up in comparatively substandard and unsafe schools and neighborhoods. They lack the networking opportunities and mentoring, tutoring and parenting time that their wealthy classmates enjoy.Giving all students a good meal is the least we can do to give poor kids a fair shot.Steve Keller is a regular contributor to the Sunday Opinion section.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidation Second, it requires many schools to provide breakfast during school hours instead of before the bell.These kinds of in-classroom meal programs have been shown to dramatically increase participation in F/RP breakfast, meaning more kids start the day with full bellies.Third, it increases funding for vending machines and coolers — as well as the Farm to School program, which stocks schools with healthy, local food.This is all good, and we should support it.But it’s really just tinkering around the edges.Our state should do what New York City has already done: Offer free meals to all students.While ending school-sponsored lunch shaming certainly mitigates the embarrassment of poverty at mealtime, we can’t force the stigma discouraging kids from getting F/RP meals out of existence.center_img Only a policy of free meals for all can make it completely obsolete.By making meals universal instead of a unique handout, this particular resentment towards poor kids would disappear.Free meals for all would also eliminate the meal debt problem. If meals are free for everyone, kids whose families are just barely above the eligibility line wouldn’t have to risk skipping lunch or incurring meal debts.Importantly, no child would go without food because of their parents’ ignorance of the program, negligence in applying, or even abuse and neglect.This seems an obvious policy to me. But I suppose there are counterarguments.If you’re hesitant about expanding government programs, remember that nobody would actually be forced to eat school meals — they’d be free to opt in only if they wanted.If it turns out all of those eligible kids are unenrolled because their families are just fine without the school’s help, this policy won’t make much of a difference at all. We all know the tired maxim that “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”In this case, the federal government is likely to bear most of this (relatively small) cost because of the way reimbursements already work.Adding to the deficit is controversial, but if you think that’s “borrowing from our kids’ futures,” consider the child whose future will be impacted by an empty stomach today.Aren’t there charities that help with this?There are. And there’s even a movement afoot to help families pay off their meal debts to school districts.But while charity is nice, getting a meal as a kid shouldn’t be contingent on the willy-nilly goodwill of others.Here’s what it comes down to: Do we believe the old philosophy of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” applies to kids too? Or do kids deserve a fair shot regardless of their station in life?last_img read more

Wolf Administration Releases Equity and Inclusion Toolkit for Schools

first_img April 06, 2017 Education,  Non-discrimination,  Press Release,  Results,  Schools That Teach Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced that the Department of Education (PDE) has released a new resource to help Pennsylvania schools prevent and respond to racially charged and bias-related incidents in their communities.“To perform their best, students must feel safe in school,” Governor Wolf said. “A healthy and safe environment can help our students thrive, and every student regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression should be provided the opportunity to learn free from discrimination, fear, or harassment. My administration is dedicated to improving education in Pennsylvania and we’ll continue working to ensure every student has the opportunity to excel.”The newly-released Equity and Inclusion Toolkit is one of a series of resources PDE began providing to the commonwealth’s schools following high-visibility incidents in several schools after November’s election. When those incidents occurred, the Administration acted quickly to condemn them as acts of bigotry and intolerance, and released a 60-second PSA to share a message of diversity and inclusion.“The toolkit released today will advance existing efforts at the state and local levels to create and maintain supportive settings that celebrate diversity and teach students the importance of respect for self and others,” Education Secretary Pedro Rivera said. “This resource was developed in collaboration with other state agencies, organizations, and partners, and focuses on strategies and actions that schools can take to address bias and discrimination in a proactive and effective manner.”PDE’s Office of Safe Schools has partnered with agencies like the Human Relations Commission (PHRC), the Center for Schools and Communities, intermediate units, and others to bolster efforts to ensure schools have resources to foster a positive culture and climate, and to respond to incidents of hate.Safe Schools established a hotline for districts to report bias-related incidents to streamline the collection of information about an incident and connect a district with services and supports more quickly.  PDE also provided resources, including a crisis plan template and curriculum guides, available online to educators.Safe Schools also provides resources on issues from combating dating violence to preventing suicide, and in 2016 introduced a toll-free bullying prevention consultation line (1-866-716-0424), which is available to students, parents/guardians, and educators.For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, visit the Department of Education’s website at www.education.pa.gov or follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Wolf Administration Releases Equity and Inclusion Toolkit for Schoolscenter_img SHARE Email Facebook Twitterlast_img read more

Men’s basketball: Badgers fall 69–74 to in-state rival Marquette in overtime

first_imgThe 125th chapter of the I-94 rivalry took place this Saturday, this time in the brand-new Fiserv Forum that is home to the Milwaukee Bucks.The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team traveled just 77 miles down the interstate to take on the Marquette Golden Eagles. The Badgers are currently ranked No. 12 in the nation but they fell short with a score of 69–74 to the Golden Eagles, giving them their 58th win in the series. Though Wisconsin still leads the series 67–58.There was no breathing room in this back and forth battle as no team led by no more than six points at any point. The game was so close it even took an extra five minutes in an overtime period to decide the winner. A lack of composure is ultimately what lead to the fall of the Wisconsin offense at the end of the game and what helped Marquette cling to a small lead before winning by five.Men’s basketball: Nate Reuvers may be next in long line of great Badger big menStarting forward Nate Reuvers has quietly been having a stellar season for the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team. Perhaps Read…Marquette missed six consecutive free throws which allowed the Badgers for three attempts to cut into their four-point deficit with under a minute left to play. D’Mitrik Trice missed a three-point attempt coming off a ball screen, only before turning the ball over on the very next possession. Wisconsin’s final attempt to stay in the game was another missed three-point attempt, this time missed by Brevin Pritzl.Marquette finished plus five in the rebound margin which they used to dominate the Badgers 14–2 in second-chance points. On top of that, Wisconsin had an uncharacteristic number of fouls with 21 which lead to the Golden Eagles converting 22 of 34 on free throw attempts.Ethan Happ had yet another tremendous game and led all scorers finishing with 34 points and 11 rebounds while shooting at an impressive rate of 76.2 percent. Happ simply just did not get as much help as was necessary, Trice finished with 10 points, Reuvers had 11 points and Alem Ford tallied eight points, but besides that, most of the Badgers were quiet tonight.Men’s basketball: Badgers hold on in close contest versus RutgersThe Big Ten proved itself once again to be one of the most brutal conferences to play in from top Read…Markus Howard led the Golden Eagles to a victory with 27 points and four assists and shot 12 for 15 from the free throw line. The Hauser brothers, Joey and Sam, combined for five three-pointers and a total of 28 points in the win. Despite only shooting 35.4 percent from the field, the Golden Eagles found a way to win by controlling the boards and containing Wisconsin from beyond the arc.Wisconsin is back in action Thursday when they take on Savannah State at the Kohl Center.last_img read more

MTN presents sponsorship package to SWAG

first_imgMTN Ghana Limited, headline sponsors of the 39th MTN/SWAG Awards, on Friday, has presented a cheque for 38, 000ghc to the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG).The amount represents the sponsorship package from the communications outfit to SWAG for the 39 years old event.Efua Falconer, Corporate Communications Manager of MTN said, it was gratifying to note that, the 39th event has been dedicated to the celebration of the Black Stars, as they embark on a journey to Brazil to participate in the World Cup.She said MTN is working towards achieving its vision of leading the delivery of a bold new digital world and has committed itself to making the necessary investments to ensure that their customers experience the digital age.“This has become relevant because technology is a driving force of various spheres in our lives, business, education health and sports.“Today many sports disciplines are using technology to develop, strategies to build their clubs, select players and analyse individuals as well as team performance.” She added.Falconer, urged sports journalists and administrators and officials to use technology to drive support for Ghana sports.Ackah Anthony, President of SWAG, expressed appreciation to MTN Ghana for their continuous support towards the organisation of the event. He said MTN over the past years has proven to be a reliable partner of SWAG in the organisation of the prestigious event and encouraged them to continue with their good works.last_img read more