Each Friday I compile a list that highlights five things you probably missed in the news that week and why you should care about them.
Here’s your list for the week of Feb. 27:
1. DeVos jokes about schools serving free lunch
Controversial Secretary of Education Besty DeVos’ comments on free school meals to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week aren’t sitting well with some child nutrition advocates. DeVos said she was the “first person to tell Bernie Sanders to his face, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” The joke wasn’t taken so lightly by some who saw the comment as an attack on providing free meals to hungry students. Child nutrition reauthorization is still up for renewal in Congress. Last year’s efforts to renew the legislation ended with Republicans and Democrats arguing over certain provisions, including block grants and the qualification criteria for CEP, a program that aims to serve more students free meals while reducing paperwork.
2. Broward County schools joins Urban School Food Alliance
Florida’s Broward County Public Schools has joined the alliance, making it the seventh district in the purchasing group that aims to use its collective buying power to buy healthy, sustainable and affordable meals. Broward is joining founding members New York City Public Schools, Los Angeles Unified School District, Chicago Public Schools, Miami-Dade Public Schools, Dallas ISD and Orange County Public Schools. With the addition, the alliance will reach nearly 3.1 million students. The seven districts have a total annual budget of $592 million in food and food supplies.
3. UConn students searched for alcohol in dining halls
Last year, an intoxicated student got into an altercation with a dining services employee at a dining hall at the University of Connecticut. The incident went viral. But it seems some other UConn students decided to visit dining halls last weekend intoxicated, leading dining services employees to check students for alcohol and asking some to empty bottles of water. A university spokeswoman said there was a large off-campus party and when some students returned to campus, they came to the dining halls drunk and with open containers of alcohol.
4. District gets rid of cheese sandwiches for unpaid meal alternative
Unpaid meal accounts have caused quite a storm for child nutrition programs in the past few years. Many districts have policies that say once a student has reached a certain amount of unpaid meal debt, an alternative meal will be given to that student. That alternative meal is often a cheese sandwich. But one Connecticut district is discontinuing that, citing nutritional concerns. The district’s interim superintendent said the cheese sandwich was not adequate and changed the alternative meal to cereal, a cheese stick, juice and milk.
5. New rules make shared tables in cafeterias difficult
New rules set forth by the Connecticut State Department of Education are making it difficult for students to share uneaten, unopened food items in school cafeterias. Share tables allow students to donate items for other students to take. The idea is to reduce food waste. But new rules disallow the donation of foods that have been packaged by cafeteria workers. Food that is commercially prepackaged is allowed to be donated. The state department said the new rules will ensure the safety of donated foods, but some school administrators say they hinder their ability to help feed low-income students.