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On World AIDS Day, New Mexico activists say more money is needed for prevention; ND farmers still navigate corporate land-ownership policy maze; Unpaid caregivers in ME receive limited financial grants.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken urges Israel to protect civilians amid Gaza truce talks, New York Rep. George Santos defends himself as his expected expulsion looms and CDC director warns about respiratory illness as flu season begins.

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Congress has iced the Farm Bill, but farmer advocates argue some portions are urgent, the Hoosier State is reaping big rewards from wind and solar, and opponents react to a road through Alaska's Brooks Range, long a dream destination for hunters and anglers.

Report: Fewer Kentucky Kids Receiving School Meals

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Tuesday, March 14, 2023   

Preliminary data shows schools are serving fewer meals than they did last year, largely due to the end of nationwide pandemic-era waivers which allowed schools to serve meals at no cost to all children. According to a recent report, Kentucky saw a 34% increase in lunch participation and a nearly 3% increase in the number of kids who ate breakfast at school over the past few years.

Clarissa Hayes, Deputy Director for School and Out-of-School Time Programs at the Food Research & Action Center, said the gap between Kentucky kids receiving breakfast and lunch now appears to be widening as kids and families go back to the tiered eligibility system used to determine who qualifies for free school meals.

"For Kentucky, what we saw is that for the breakfast-to-lunch comparison, for every 100 children receiving a lunch, about 65 are receiving a breakfast," Hayes said. "So, that's a little bit lower than the year before where, for every 100 children receiving lunch, 85 are receiving a breakfast."

Research shows regular school meals improve kids' academic performance, mental health and nutritional intake. Federal data from 2019 shows nearly 15-million students ate a school breakfast and nearly 30-million students ate school lunch on a typical day.

There are pathways to ensuring that consistent access to healthy school meals is a reality for all kids, Hayes said.

"Ideally, that would be expanded, expanded on the federal level, but we are seeing many states that are taking it upon themselves to pass legislation to make sure that all kids are getting those meals at no cost," she said.

Some states are stepping up to fill the gap to cover the cost of school meals regardless of kids' eligibility, including California, Maine and Colorado.


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