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 Sept. 4:
1. NYC Schools to offer free meals for all
In a move that has long been sought by advocates, all public school students in New York City will receive meals for free this year. That’s free meals for 1.1 million students each year. The move was announced this week by Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, who said, “This is about equality. All communities matter.” About 75 percent of students in NYC schools qualify for free or reduced priced meals. The move will allow about 200,000 more students to receive meals for free this year (students who qualified for reduced priced meals received free meals already). Breakfast has already been free to all students. The city says the move will not cost the city any additional money
2. District sends “lunch shaming” note to parents
A Texas school district sent home a note to parents that warned that if parents didn’t put money into their children’s cafeteria accounts, their lunch trays “will be pulled from students who do not have breakfast and or lunch money.” The note continued saying, “Students without breakfast money will not eat. Students without lunch money will get a peanut butter sandwich and a cup of water or a cheese sandwich if the student is allergic to peanuts.” After receiving complaints the district told parents to disregard that notification and said students would be allowed to charge two meals, after which they would be given an alternative meal. As stated in my column previously, I see no issue with providing alternative meals to students. Child nutrition programs are self-sustaining. And no child nutrition professional wants to see a kid go hungry—some are even fired for giving away free food to hungry kids. The issue here is the letter that said students would have their lunch trays pulled if they didn’t have money. I understand it’s hard to recoup unpaid meal accounts, but this message did little to build comfort with the community.
3. Food insecurity drops to lowest point in a decade
The number of Americans who are food insecure dropped to 41.2 million people last year, the lowest point since 2007. That number represents a 2.4 percent decline from 2015. A representative for No Kid Hunger, a Washington-based child nutrition program advocacy group, said that “many of the states that have seen the biggest declines are the ones that have been supporting school meal programs.” Those states include Nevada, Arkansas, Colorado and Maryland.
Read more: Hunger in U.S. Drops to Lowest in a Decade
4. Parents upset over cafeteria lunch cleaning
Parents in a North Carolina school district are upset that cafeteria tables are cleaned only with water between lunch periods. The parents say water doesn’t kill bacteria from sick children and can also be an issue for students with food allergies. The district says it can’t use chemical cleaners because the “rapid turn-around of students in our cafeterias during lunch sessions does not allow for the safe use of chemicals (including) soap for all children.” The tables are cleaned after breakfast and the after the final lunch session. Parents said water bottles filled with soap from the bathrooms should be used as an alternative.
Read more: Parents upset about Wake Schools' use of plain water to clean lunch tables
5. Hospital foodservice workers join Fight for $15
Fast food workers from across the country have been protesting for $15 minimum wages for several years, and hospital foodservice workers in the Midwest are joining in. The workers joined with other foodservice members of SEIU to protest on Labor Day.
Contact Becky Schilling at [email protected].
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