Coronavirus Pandemic, U.S. News, Business, Health, Government And Politics, Education, California, Immigration

Coronavirus Pandemic, U.S. News

California launches largest free school lunch program in US

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — When classrooms in California reopen for the fall term, all 6.2 million public school students will have the option to eat school meals for free, regardless of their family’s income.

7/20/2021 1:36:00 AM

When classrooms in California reopen this fall, all 6.2 million public school students will have the option to eat school meals for free, regardless of their family’s income. An unexpected budget surplus is making the undertaking possible.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — When classrooms in California reopen for the fall term, all 6.2 million public school students will have the option to eat school meals for free, regardless of their family’s income.

“This is so historic. It’s beyond life-changing,” said Erin Primer, director of food services for the San Luis Coastal Unified School District on California’s central coast.Several U.S. cities including New York, Boston and Chicago already offer free school meals for all. But until recently, statewide universal meal programs were considered too costly and unrealistic. California became the first state to adopt a universal program late last month, and Maine followed shortly after with a similar plan.

Hear Sounds From Mars Captured by NASA’s Perseverance Rover Democrats Attempt To Woo Joe Manchin For Reconciliation Bill By Taping Single Hershey’s Kiss To Latest Draft Matt Gaetz's former 'wingman' gets more time to help prosecutors

ADVERTISEMENT“We’ve completely leveled the playing field when it comes to school food,” Primer said. The extra funding will also allow her to offer tastier, better quality food such as fresh bread, produce and cheese from local producers, she said.Under federal rules, a family of four must make less than $34,000 a year to qualify for free meals and $48,000 to qualify for reduced-price meals. The caps shift annually but are based on federal poverty measures that don’t take into account the high cost of living and taxes in California.

“So it’s just for the most poor families, and not even all of them because some people failed to sign up or were fearful to sign up,” said Kat Taylor, a philanthropist and major funder of the Center for Ecoliteracy and the TomKat Ranch that backed California’s plan. headtopics.com

About 60% of California students qualify, but experts say the number of children who need food assistance is much higher in a state with vast income inequality. Communities of color are disproportionately affected and immigrant communities in particular are fearful of applying because of detailed forms that ask intrusive questions such as their family income, Social Security number and children’s immigration status.

Schools reported a declining percentage of families applying for free and reduced-price meals during the Trump administration, which attempted to tighten immigration policies and public benefits.Like school officials statewide, Primer has countless tales of children who struggled to pay for school meals or were too ashamed to eat for free. There was the child whose mother called Primer, distraught because she made a few hundred dollars too much to qualify; the father who is in the country illegally and feared that filling out the free meal application could get him deported; and constant cases of high schoolers not wanting friends to know they need free food, so they skip eating.

ADVERTISEMENTWhen the pandemic hit, it changed everything — including how school meals were served — and provided an impetus for the universal program, which had bipartisan, unanimous support. Lawmakers previously had only pursued targeted bills such as easing school lunch debt.

After schools shut in March 2020, many transformed their parking lots into pickup sites, and federal funding allowed schools to offer meals to anyone. There were no applications, qualifications and no questions asked.The massive turnout showed how much families rely on the meals. headtopics.com

BLACKPINK’s Rosé on Climate Crisis: “Our Generation Has to Come Together” Scuba diver finds 900-year-old Crusader sword off the coast of Israel 3 Men Posing As Female Author Win Million-Euro Literary Prize

The Los Angeles Unified School District, the state’s largest with 600,000 students, handed out upward of 400,000 meals a day, said spokeswoman Shannon Haber. San Luis Coastal, with 7,500 students, gave out 30,000 meals a week at the height of the pandemic, nearly triple the number before. The district includes the wealthy city of San Luis Obispo and lower-income areas.

“I thought it was a pipe dream for a long time,” said Sen. Nancy Skinner, a longtime advocate for universal free meals.Backed by over 200 organizations in a coalition called “School Meals for All,” Skinner and other lawmakers pushed for funding in the state budget, seizing the momentum at a time when California is flush with cash. The $262 billion budget provides $54 million for the coming school year, supplementing funding from the Biden administration through June 2022. After that, California will spend $650 million annually.

“If you’re a hungry child, you’re not going to learn well,” said Skinner, a Democrat representing Berkeley. “Why should we have to go through a bureaucratic hassle to get a kid fed, when we could just have universal meals?”Senate Education Committee Republicans supported the plan as a way to help families struggling with California’s high cost of living. Sen. Brian Dahle, a Republican from a largely rural area of Northern California, said he had watched kids at his children’s school steal leftover food when cafeteria workers weren’t looking.

“For a lot of them that was their dinner and they were sneaking it or taking it off someone’s plate when they didn’t finish it,” said Dahle.Schools rarely turn hungry kids away. But for children who didn’t qualify and needed lunch, their parents were billed and many racked up huge debts. In recent years some schools threatened to not let students graduate middle or high school until lunch debts were paid, or stamped the hands of students who owed money, said Jessica Bartholow, chief of staff for Skinner who previously was an anti-hunger advocate. headtopics.com

Some schools would hire debt collectors to hound parents, but at the end of the year schools have to use general fund dollars to pay off lunch program debts, she said.For Tina Self, a mother of three, avoiding the cost of $3 school lunches every day will be an enormous relief.

“It might seem like a little bit, but it helps a lot,” said Self, who lives in San Luis Obispo where a gallon of gas can cost just shy of $5 a gallon and rent is “crazy.”“Lucky for us we both have a job and we have two running cars,” she said of herself and her husband. “But we’re barely making it as it is.”

US expected to authorize mix-and-match COVID booster shots Dozens of NYC officers should be disciplined over response to George Floyd protests, watchdog says ‘Ozark’s’ Final Season to Premiere in January 2022 on Netflix (TV News Roundup)

Tony Wold, an associate superintendent of the West Contra Costa Unified School, says it’s about time lunches were free.“Just like you need to give students textbooks and a computer, there are certain things you need to do. And this is one of them,” Wold said.

___This story has been corrected to say that Kat Taylor is a major funder of the Center for Ecoliteracy, not its co-founder. Read more: The Associated Press »

Watch: Turtle stranded on Cape Cove rescued by volunteers - CNN Video

Volunteers from three organizations have moved the massive reptile back into the ocean and will continue to monitor its progress.

How about give the surplus back to the people who were over-taxed to begin with? The food being provided is not “free.” Everything has a value. Visit a farm and see the what it takes. So much food is wasted and thrown way because a value is not placed on it. Visit a neighborhood school during feeding time and you be shocked as to what is thrown away.

Who says there is no such thing as a free lunch? let's hope they included the senior meals too Governor buying votes plain and simple. What role did cannabis tax revenue play in the surplus? Government provided food. Government provided housing. You own nothing and the political elite make all your choices for you. Hope you don’t get sick of being a lemming because you also voted away your tools to defend individual liberties. 🤖👍🏼

There is always a surplus when democrats are in charge and a deficit when republicans are in charge. Sometimes it take awhile to clean up republican messes but democrats always do better than republicans. This is wonderful. Yay

Huge Oregon Blaze Grows As Wildfires Burn Across Western U.S.The largest wildfire in the U.S. has torched more dry forest landscape in Oregon. The land is becoming barren. All the good organic humus has gone up in smoke. regime in Iran is killing citizens who are peacefully protesting for not having water in the Khuzestan province of Iran. They are killing people. Please spread our voice! Fed by all those missing Trump votes😂

Unbelievable. Of all the priorities in running government, it takes this long to consider, maybe children should be able to eat school food for free? Just look at the comments from the right. They constantly cry about abortion yet don't want to help feed hungry kids. Just shows that they are pro birth not pro life advocates

Things like this should be covered before anything else. This tells where American priorities are.

California fire prompts evacuations; Oregon blaze balloonsA California wildfire forces the cancellation of an extreme bike ride and prompts evacuations as the largest wildfire in the U.S. — burning in southern Oregon — continues to grow rapidly and dangerously. Hello! Can you help me? I ask for protection and refuge. Recorded a video message to the leaders - Mr. Biden and Queen Elizabeth. Can you help me distribute a video message or show it to reporters for publicity?

CNN announces CNN+, 'most important launch for network since Ted Turner'CNN+, which debuts in early 2022, will co-exist with CNN's television networks and will feature eight to 12 hours of live programming a day That’s great news how do you guys have so many lies as material? crazy stufd Another station that nobody’s gonna watch? You should be consolidating not expanding!

TurboTax creator Intuit leaves the IRS' free tax filing programTurboTax creator Intuit has left the IRS Free File program over claims the federal tax agency's system is holding it back.

Jemima Kirk Promises to Run a Tight Ship as New Teacher in ‘Sex Education’ Teaser (TV News Roundup)Jemima Kirk, formerly synonymous with her role as the wild, free-spirited Jessa on HBO’s “Girls,” is flipping the script for the students of Moordale Secondary School in Season 3 … Might want to check the spelling of Kirke. 🤦🏻‍♂️ (it’s also wrong in the article)

The cost of living posts biggest surge since 2008, U.S. CPI shows, as inflation spreads through economyInflation is spreading — this June, the cost of living rose by the largest amount since 2008. What's causing an increase in prices? 🚗Used cars 🍔Food 🏠Shelter Please tell me you're joking that you don't know why this is happening? Seriously? Really? Not rocket science. I understand you posted this to get people to look at your page who may not be so informed. But it's basic economics. Most of us had to have to graduate HS. Unprecedented government spending , to answer your question.