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 Aug. 28:
1. Houston students get free meals all year following Harvey
The devastation in Houston is horrendous, and many schools are nowhere near being able to open. I grew up in northeast Houston, and my high school in Humble ISD is so badly flooded that teachers were told it would be at least three more weeks (they missed one week already) before they could open the building. But schools know better than most that even when class isn’t in session, students are still in need of meals. While many of the schools are far from being ready to serve, the USDA has granted Houston Independent School District (HISD) a waiver allowing it to serve free meals all year, including supper, for all students without having to collect free and reduced meal applications. “It will take months, possibly years for the city to recover. We expect families to be displaced, students to attend new schools, and many of them possibly using alternative ways to travel to and from school,” said Nutrition Services Officer Betti Wiggins. “We want to reduce any stress connected to food while families work toward getting their personal affairs in order. All HISD students will have access to good food, made with as many local and fresh ingredients as possible and served with love and a smile.”
2. Houston hospitals struggle with Harvey
Houston has a first-class medical center downtown, and many are struggling in the aftermath of Harvey. One hospital, Ben Taub, tried to evacuate its patients but abandoned the plan after high waters forced back ambulances. The hospital’s food supply was also contaminated when a pipe burst. On Sunday, CNN reported that the hospital had enough food to feed its 350 patients for a day and a half. After that they would need to get restocked or evacuate the patients. As of Tuesday, the hospital had not been evacuated and there has been no word on the status of the food supply.
3. NJ hospital system eliminated sugary drinks
In a move that is becoming increasingly more common, AtlantiCare, a health system in New Jersey, will eliminate sugary beverages from its locations starting Sept. 7. Diet ginger ale will be available on patient floors and diet sodas will be available in retail locations and vending machines.
Read more: AtlantiCare to eliminate sugary drinks from provider locations
4. District ditches foam trays in sustainability effort
In an effort to reduce its environmental impact, cafeterias in Jefferson County Public School in Kentucky will serve meals on recyclable cardboard trays. The district had been using biodegradable foam trays. The new cardboard trays can go directly into the district’s recycling dumpsters. Jefferson County serves 118,000 meals each day.
Read more: JCPS ditches foam food containers for recyclable cardboard trays
5. Are healthy meal efforts in schools actually working?
We’ve all seen studies of changes made in cafeterias and the results they “prove.” But one concludes that the results of the changes may not really be all that impressive. For example, when a study says kids ate “significantly more” it could mean simply one more bite of an apple. It should be noted that this critique has not been peer-reviewed and is still preliminary, but the piece raises a good question: Just how well are our efforts to get kids to eat healthier in schools working?