Saturday, January 28, 2023


A critical number of rural IA nursing homes close; TX lawmakers consider measures to restrict, and expand voting in 2023 Session; and CT groups, and unions call for public-health reforms.


Attorney General announces enforcement actions on ransomware, Democrats discuss border policies, and the FDA is relaxing rules for gay and bisexual men to donate blood.


"Brain Gain?" Research shows rural population is actually growing, especially in recreational areas; other small towns are having success offering relocation incentives like free building lots, cash, complimentary dinners and even internet credits; and researchers say the key is flexibility and creativity.

Ohio Education Leaders Support Free School Meals for All


Tuesday, September 27, 2022   

Education officials in Ohio want state leaders to invest in free school meals for all students.

Pandemic-era federal waivers enabling schools to offer breakfast and lunch at no cost expired in June, meaning families in need of assistance have to income-qualify for federal school meal programs. For a family of four, it's about $51,000 a year for reduced-priced meals and $36,000 for free meals.

Andrea Helton, registered dietitian and director of Nutrition Services for the Wellington Exempted Village School District, worried kids will fall through the cracks.

"I've had some calls from families upset because they missed the cutoff by maybe a couple hundred dollars," Helton recounted. "They've expressed to me that it's upsetting that the applications only include gross income, and do not include a lot of those other factors that go into providing food for children, every single day."

The Ohio State Board of Education is recommending the General Assembly use American Rescue Plan Act funds to offer no-cost breakfast and lunch to all Ohio students through the remainder of the school year.

Katherine Ungar, senior policy associate for the Children's Defense Fund of Ohio, explained Ohio has spent about 65% of it's nearly $5.4 billion federal allocation.

"But that leaves us with almost $2 billion left to be allocated," Ungar pointed out. "We're hopeful that they'll use a very small portion of that to fund school meals for all, for this school year."

Research links school meals to improved attendance, academic achievement and cognitive function. Ungar noted free meals allow students to focus on school instead of hunger.

"But it's also hugely beneficial to nutrition providers who, instead of focusing and worrying about collecting school meal debt, can instead focus their attention on deciding what will be on the menu, making sure it's healthy and nutritious for our students," Ungar contended.

Helton added access to regular, nutritious meals can set children up for future success.

"Children are said to at least consume half of their caloric intake during the school day," Ungar explained. "Which means that this is the perfect opportunity for us to promote lifelong healthy habits, and to give exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables."

One in five Ohio kids is considered food insecure and in a recent survey, 87% of Ohio parents said they support free school meals for all students.

Disclosure: The Children's Defense Fund-Ohio Chapter/Kids Count contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Education, Health Issues, and Hunger/Food/Nutrition. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

get more stories like this via email
New data show in California, 2021-22 state testing scores are even lower than the state's historically low testing scores. (Rawpixel/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

Many of California's 13.5 million children and teens have not bounced back after the pandemic, especially children of color, according to the just-…

Social Issues

Americans continue to report low trust in mainstream media, with many younger than 30 saying they trust information from social media nearly as much …

Social Issues

A Minnesota House committee heard testimony Thursday about the governor's proposed spending plan for education. As these talks unfold, public polling …

From February 2020 to November 2021, the number of workers in nursing homes and other care facilities dropped by 410,000 nationally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

Health-care professionals say low pay and a worker shortage have led a dramatic number of nursing homes in rural Iowa to close their doors. They hope …

Health and Wellness

Health-care professionals and advocates in Connecticut have said it will take sweeping reforms to bolster the state's flailing public health system…

In a national survey, Michigan was ranked 27th among the 50 states for its cost, access and quality of long-term care supports and services. California was ranked first. (Flickr)

Social Issues

In her fifth State of the State address this week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer emphasized policies designed to put more money in Michiganders' pockets…

Social Issues

By nearly every measure, voter fraud in U.S. elections is rare, but that isn't stopping the Texas Legislature from considering dozens of bills this …

Social Issues

A Republican-sponsored bill in the Arkansas Legislature would make it illegal to circulate petitions at or near polling places during elections…


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021