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5 things: What’s the impact of Community Eligibility on poverty rates?

This and more are the things you missed for the week of Feb. 18

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. 18:

1. What’s the impact of Community Eligibility on poverty rates?

When the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act came out in 2010, one of the big changes was the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which allowed schools to serve free meals to all students, regardless of payment status, as long as 40 percent qualified to receive those meals. Districts are allowed to put some or all of their schools on CEP, and they could group schools together to create that 40 percent threshold (meaning they could pair lower-income schools with higher-income schools to meet the 40 percent threshold and serve all children free meals). Schools are reimbursed for the percentage of free or reduced students they serve, meaning they must pay for students who would be required to pay their meals. CEP allows districts to directly certify students for free meals, meaning they no longer have to fill out paperwork for the school meals program. While most districts were thrilled with the program, some voiced concerns over what would happen when paperwork was no longer filled out. Would that affect school funding that is connected with the percentage of high-poverty schools?

A recent study conducted by the University of Missouri about Missouri school districts found that the poverty rate increased by only 2 percentage points after schools adopted CEP. The researchers did caution that these numbers could shift more in states that have larger school districts. The study, which has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, also found that even with CEP, nationwide participation in the National School Lunch Program remained flat at 52 percent between the 2013-14 school year (before CEP was enacted) and 2015-16 (the first year of CEP implementation). 

Read more: How a federal free meal program affected school poverty stats

2. NYU to cut single-use plastic bottles

While eliminating straws is all the rage these days, they have nowhere near the footprint a plastic bottle takes up. New York University (NYU) is hoping to cut that footprint from its campus when it no longer purchases single-use plastic bottles beginning Jan. 1, 2020. The university says the move will reduce its waste by more than 330,000 plastic bottles a year.

Read more: NYU Commits to Halt Spending on Plastic Bottles on Campus by 2020 as Part of University-wide Sustainability Initiative

3. Room service cuts hospital waste by 30%

We all know the benefits of a room service-style program on patient satisfaction. But UC San Francisco Medical Center (UCSFMC) found that when it switched to an on-demand program, it cut its food waste by 30 percent. Other hospitals are also offering different size portions and giving patients a choice on whether to have sides or a dessert in efforts to help reduce food waste.

Read more: Hospital Wastes A Third Less Food After This One Change

4. Aramark says “mouse” photo actually chicken wing

A photo posted on Snapchat alleged that a mouse was found in a plate of food at Temple University. The photo went viral, as these things tend to do. The students, however, did not bring the issue up with dining services, which is managed by Aramark, so the department was unable to confirm the allegation. Aramark denies it was a mouse and says the photo was actually of a chicken wing. The city did inspect the dining hall where the photo was taken and found mouse droppings. 

Read more: Aramark claims viral Morgan Hall mouse photo is a chicken wing

5. Beer bigger seller at Super Bowl than hot dogs

It could have been the low-scoring nature of the game, but beer was purchased seven times more often at the big game than hot dogs. Just how many beers were sold? Well, the final tally is 117,400, which works out to 1.7 beers per attendee.

Read more: Super Bowl fans bought seven times more beer than hot dogs

Bonus: 2019 Silver Plate winners announced

Contact Becky Schilling at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @bschilling_FM 

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