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 March 13:
1. Hunger one reason schools hold back on snow days
School districts look at many factors when deciding to have a snow day. But one that many might not think of is childhood hunger. Thirteen million students go to school hungry each day, and 22.1 million kids rely on free or reduced price meals in school. So when a district closes for snow, many kids lose out on their opportunity to eat. According to the Washington Post, the USDA sent schools a memo last year encouraging them to “be flexible” on snow days and other days off and to provide meals if possible. Dallas ISD, for example, extended the number of campuses it will serve meals at during spring break. In the nation’s largest district, the New York City schools chancellor said she declined to call a snow day once because, “Many of our kids don’t get a hot lunch and, in many cases breakfast, unless they go to school."
2. Georgia high school kicks UberEATS out of school
Lunch participation at many high schools is lower than at other grade levels. The reasons can vary, but having an open campus that allows students to leave the grounds significantly impacts lunch counts. But that’s not the case at one Georgia high school in Gwinnett. The competition there wasn’t coming from students leaving campus, but rather students ordering in food through UberEATS. The district administration recently cracked down on these food deliveries, saying it violated school policy and students could face disciplinary consequences for using the service. The district says there is a safety issue with having visitors on campus who do not have a purpose coming there.
3. Trump budget proposal cuts funding to Meals on Wheels
President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would cut funding to the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 13.2 percent. The department provides federal funding for Meals on Wheels (MOW) programs throughout the country. The organization says it received 84 percent of its funding from individual contributions and grants from corporations and foundations, and only 3 percent from government grants. In 2015, MOW realized enough revenues to cover its expenses and realize a $40,000 surplus. If funding is cut, even it’s the small amount MOW receives from the government, will that make it difficult for the organization to feed elderly clients, many of whom are home-bound?
4. College sees decline in participation following reduction in mandatory meal plans
Kennesaw State University’s The Commons is seeing a decline in traffic since new meal plan rules went into effect this semester. The university is phasing out mandatory commuter meal plans by the fall, and as a part of that, it has offered full-time, non-residential students options to purchase lower cost meal plans that have fewer swipes. As a result, The Commons has seen between a 17 and 28 percent decrease in traffic in the past three months, so it will also start closing its second-floor seating area each day at 4 p.m. and reallocate staff to other parts of the facility.
5. Onsite locations must serve vegan food in Portugal
In yet another sign that plant-based dining is making huge headways, a new law in Portugal requires all public canteens to serve a vegan option. It impacts schools, hospitals, prisons and other public building and goes into effect in six months. The law came about after a petition circulated by the Portuguese Vegetarian Society garnered more than 15,000 signatures, leading the country’s parliament to begin discussions.
Contact Becky Schilling at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter: @bschilling_FM