Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Breaking News

Community News Network

July 9, 2014

New York to offer free lunch to all middle-school students

NEW YORK — New York's $75 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that began last week includes the first step toward offering free lunch for all 1.1 million students, expanding a program now reserved only for the city's poorest children.

Starting in September, the city will spend an additional $6.25 million a year so that all 177,000 students in the sixth through eighth grades will qualify for free breakfast and lunch without requiring parents to certify that their income is 130 percent of the $30,615 poverty level for a family of four.

By expanding the program, advocates seek to eliminate the shame and embarrassment that keep many children who qualify for the free lunches from receiving them. About 780,000 city students are poor enough to be eligible, yet only about 250,000 participate, according to the New York Times.

 "Many students who do qualify for free lunch often do not take advantage of it for fear of the stigma they face," said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, D, who predicted that future budgets would grant all city children free lunch. "Universal free lunch would eliminate that stigma and help ensure that all students have access to a nutritious meal at school."

Mayor Bill de Blasio, D, resisted efforts by the council to spend $24 million to extend the program to all students. The mayor, who took office Jan. 1 vowing to fight income inequality, said he needed to balance that goal with fiscal responsibility.

New York's free-lunch program cost $425 million last year, with the city paying about $23 million and the federal government contributing more than $375 million, according to Amy Spitalnick, spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget. The state contributed about $10 million, and an additional $16 million came from miscellaneous revenue.

In announcing his June 20 budget deal with the council, de Blasio described providing lunch to all middle-school students as part of an agenda that included expanded summer youth programs, investment in affordable housing, universal pre- kindergarten and increased police protection in public housing.

Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Rochester and Syracuse are some of the 600 low-income school districts that have made the free lunch program universal. The cities took advantage of a 2010 federal law that extended lunch to all students without the need to review and submit the parental income-disclosure paperwork. Any district can qualify for that waiver when 40 percent of its student families receive food stamps.

The National School Lunch Program, which began in 1946, has taken an increasing bite out of the federal budget, leading some to question its value. Its initial $70 million outlay fed about 7 million. In 2012, more than 31.6 million students received free lunch at a cost $11.6 billion, up from $6.1 billion in 2000.

"Economists always say there's no such thing as a free lunch; someone has to pay for it," said Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief of staff for former President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers.

"New York and federal budgets and taxpayers are under stress right now, and the question is, how best to target the dollars we have," she said. "It's more efficient to spend it on the basis of need. Up until now we've had a core value that people with limited income should get services like this."

During the summer months, the federal government also subsidizes free breakfasts and lunches for any child 18 years old or younger.

De Blasio last month vowed the city would deliver food to more children this year than the record 7.6 million it served last year. To meet that goal, the city has opened 1,000 sites at pools, playgrounds, schools, libraries and public housing developments.

About 200 a day get fed at the Mullaly Pool in the South Bronx, just three blocks from Yankee Stadium, a neighborhood where 31 percent live at or below the poverty line. About 200 lunches -- a sandwich, chocolate milk, carrot sticks, a piece of fruit -- gets distributed there most days, said George Davis, a parks worker.

The lunch area, which has about five tables, "gets packed as soon as they announce it's being served," said Jeffrey Garcia, 35, a network engineer for a telecommunications company, who brought his three children to the pool last week.

"The pool empties out and they form a long line waiting for the meals to be distributed," Garcia said. "Sure they work up an appetite from horsing around in the water, but you can also get an appreciation for the fact that times are hard and some of these kids are just plain hungry."

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 21, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 21, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 21, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 18, 2014

  • A quarter of the world's most educated people live in the 100 largest cities

    College graduates are increasingly sorting themselves into high-cost, high-amenity cities such as Washington, New York, Boston and San Francisco, a phenomenon that threatens to segregate us across the country by education.

    July 18, 2014

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 17, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 17, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • web_starbucks-cof_big_ce.jpg Starbucks sees more Apple-like stores after Colombia debut

    This week Starbucks opened its first location in Colombia — a 2,700-square-foot store with a heated patio, concrete columns, mirrors on the ceiling and walls of colorful plants.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

Biz Marquee
AP Video
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques ShowBiz Minute: Hoffman, Oberst, Box Office WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong