Long Lines For Free School Meals, Thanks to The Economy

The number of students receiving free or reduced-price school lunches rose to 21 million last school year, up from 18 million in 2006-07. That number represents a 17 percent increase, according to an analysis by The New York Times of data from the Department of Agriculture, which administers the meals program. Eleven states, including Florida, Nevada, New Jersey and Tennessee, had four-year increases of 25 percent or more. This represents huge shifts in a vast program that has long been characterized by incremental growth.

Students in families with incomes up to 130 percent of the poverty level — or $29,055 for a family of four — are eligible for free school meals. Children in a four-member household with income up to $41,348 qualify for a subsidized lunch priced at 40 cents.

All 50 states have shown increases, according to Agriculture Department data. In Florida, which has 2.6 million public school students, an additional 265,000 students have become eligible for subsidies since 2007, with increases in virtually every district.

Click the “analysis” link above, or here, to read more of the Times story. For general information on the National School Lunch Program, click here.

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People Are Starving, But There Is Enough Food To Go Around

Another amazing infographic, this time provided by the good folks at Fast Company, and reported by Morgan Clendadinel.

One in seven people in the world is malnourished. But the research presented here makes a strong case that the solution isn’t producing more food – We already produce too much. It’s just not going to the right places. The full monty runs about two feet long, so please click on the infographic link above to get to the data. It’s worth a click!

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Just What Is “Food Insecurity,” Anyway?

Major props to the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger for tweeting about it, and the amazing folks at Good for producing this “Empty Pantry” infographic that lays out in chilling detail the scary truth about the concept of  “food insecurity.” To get the full- size version, go here or click on the infographic itself. And make sure to check out the entire Good web site via the link, above.

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World Food Programme Hunger Map


This comes to us via a great post on Google+ by Valeria Maltoni.  It’s a world hunger overview infographic, just produced by the World Food Programme. Informative, and sobering. The link to the full-size map is here.


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Watchdog: USDA To Audit School Food Service Companies

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s watchdog arm plans to look closely at whether the food-service-management companies running many school cafeterias are passing along all the discounts and rebates they receive from their suppliers to the districts that hire them.

Education Week reports that the audit will begin in August, according to a lawyer in the USDA’s office of inspector general . It was triggered in part by a settlement between the New York state attorney general and Sodexo, one of several large companies in the business of running school cafeterias. Last July, Sodexo, a French company with its U.S. headquarters in Gaithersburg, Md., agreed to pay $20 million to resolve allegations that it had over-charged 21 school districts and the State University of New York system for some of the food provided to students.

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“Let’s Get To Work” – NOT

Meet Governor Rick Scott 
Florida Govenor Rick Scott

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Pink slips are going out to more than 1,600 state workers in the next two days (by Friday), a grim reminder of the human toll of the austere spending plan approved by lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott this spring. They join the ranks of tens of thousands of teachers, first responders and others who served the most needy of our state’s citizens.

The Department of Children and Families and the Department of Juvenile Justice will suffer most of the staff cuts. DCF is laying off 679 employees and DJJ is trimming 706.

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Good Nutrition News For Florida Kids!

This just in, and finally there’s a bit of good news on the child nutrition front:


Tallahassee, FL – Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam issued the following statement today in response to Governor Rick Scott signing the Healthy Schools for Healthy Lives Act (S.B. 1312) into law:

“Today, Governor Rick Scott signed the Healthy Schools for Healthy Lives Act (S.B. 1312) into law. I applaud Governor Scott for embracing our collective effort to improve nutrition in school cafeterias across the State of Florida. Together, we’re going to direct more of Florida’s fresh fruits and vegetables to Florida students. We’re going to help Florida’s children build healthier eating habits. And we’re going to take on the challenges of the childhood obesity epidemic. I want to personally thank Representative Seth McKeel and Senator Gary Siplin for their leadership in this effort. With the Healthy Schools for Healthy Lives Act signed into law, we’re putting the children of Florida and their health first.”

Passage of the bill was a primary goal of Florida Impact, the state’s senior legislative public policy advocacy organization, which conducted an extensive grassroots lobbying campaign in support of the legislation along with a broad colation of other groups and supporters. Impact is also the lead partner with Share Our Strength on the Florida Project to End Childhood Hunger. Information on the Partnership can be found here.

As Commissioner Putnam stated, the Act, which shifts control of nutrition programs for students from the Department of Education to the Department of Agriculture, will help improve nutrition in school cafeterias across the State of Florida, and specifically direct more of Florida’s fresh fruits and vegetables to Florida students. You can read the text of S.B. 1312 here.

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