Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Home Lead Story Oregon Expands Federal Free Lunch Program

Oregon Expands Federal Free Lunch Program

The meals expansion program is tucked away in a new tax package for schools

Oregon is spending $40 million to dramatically expand its federal free breakfast and lunch program, ensuring that more than 60 percent of its 400,000 public school students will be included, the largest statewide effort in the country.

The program is based on providing free meals to any child whose family lives at up to three times the poverty level, which is $75,000 for a family of four.

New tax package

The meals expansion program is tucked away in a new tax package for schools, a sweeping $1 billion annual investment explicitly dedicated to boosting student performance. It will be paid for through a new half a percent tax on business.

oregon, Free lunch
Oregon will allow 761 schools to provide free lunch and breakfast to approximately 345,000 students. Pixabay

Chicago and New York City are among some major cities that offer free breakfast and lunch to all students, but this is the only statewide program according to Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon.

“Hungry kids don’t think about education nearly as much as having something in their stomach,” said Sen. Arnie Roblan, a Democrat from Coos Bay who helped craft the legislation.

Oregon will allow 761 schools to provide free lunch and breakfast to approximately 345,000 students.

One in seven households is “food insecure,” according to the Oregon Center for Public Policy , meaning that families have trouble putting food on the table and often don’t know where they’ll get their next meal.

Also Read – Kids Spending More Time in Watching TV Get Less Sleep

At least 174,000 children have limited access to food, more than the population of Oregon’s second largest city, Eugene.

Hunger-Free Kids Act

At least 62% of students attend a school with high federal poverty rates. These schools can get federal assistance to provide free meals to all their students no matter their income levels under the 2011 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a policy championed by former first lady Michelle Obama.

But even though these schools may qualify for assistance, not all of them take advantage of it because of low federal reimbursement rates. The reimbursement rate is different for each school, depending on the school’s poverty level.

Schools with lower reimbursement rates often choose to provide free meals only to students living about two times above the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that would require an income up to $50,000.

oregon, free lunch
Schools with lower reimbursement rates often choose to provide free meals only to students living about two times above the federal poverty level. Wikimedia Commons

Around a third of food insecure students in Oregon, however, live above that poverty threshold meaning they’re ineligible for free meals under the federal program, according to data from Feeding America .

Tim Sweeney, a superintendent in Oregon’s impoverished South Coast, said that his district runs a deficit because it chooses to take on the cost of feeding all its students. Many students are completely dependent on schools for food, he said.

But even with federal assistance, it costs around $25,000 a year to provide free breakfast and lunches, money Sweeney said could have gone to textbooks.

“Poverty is a huge deal here and so many students rely on schools to provide them with food and a warm place for shelter,” he said. “Food service may not be a winning game, but we know it means the world to these kids.”

Gov. Brown signs package

Gov. Kate Brown signed the school funding tax package, but it’s likely to be referred to the voters to decide in 2020, thanks to Oregon’s robust referendum process.

Also Read – Populism Facing Pre-Election Public Oppositions from European Catholic Clerics

Republicans, who make up the minority of the Legislature, sought to block the package by refusing to show up to the Capitol to vote, shutting down all business for a week. They returned Monday at which point the measure was swiftly approved.

Although the tax package was partisan, Roblan says this is the one provision that was never up for debate.

“This is a big buy for our state,” he said. “But there was no hesitation. This is the right thing to do.” (VOA)

STAY CONNECTED

18,957FansLike
362FollowersFollow
1,780FollowersFollow

Most Popular

What Does the Word ‘Swastika’ Mean?

In Sanskrit, the word swastika is a combination of ‘su’ (meaning ‘good’) and ‘asti’ (meaning ‘to exist’) — often getting translated as ‘all is...

Janmashtami: Learn Five Lessons from Lord Krishna to Achieve Success in Life

By Muskan Bhatnagar According to Hindu Panchang, every year, Krishna Janmashtami celebrations take place on the Ashtami date of Krishna Paksha of Bhado month and...

Top 10 Things to Know Before Planning a Trip to Europe

If your next travel destination is Europe, these are the things you should keep in mind: Check passport validity: Clearly remember that many countries require a...

Bollywood Blends In Janmashtami Colours

On the occasion of Janmashtami, celebrities took to social media to extend greetings to their fans, giving a glimpse of how they are celebrating...

5 Reasons Why More Online Casinos Accept Indians

Gambling in India is as old as India itself, so it is not surprising that more and more online casinos accept Indian punters, looking...

3 Types of ULIP Plans in India that Gives Guaranteed Returns

In today’s competitive world, there are plenty of saving and investment choices that decide your future financial wellbeing as well as that of your...

Mouthwash Use Can Reduce Covid Transmission Risk

In the fight against the novel Coronavirus, a team of German scientists has claimed that Sars-Cov-2 viruses can be "inactivated" using commercially available mouthwashes. According...

Increased Foreign Investments into India’s Gaming Market

There has been an increase in gaming activities in India since 2016. This has led to growth in the gaming sector of India. This...

Recent Comments