This article would’ve been published last night, but there was routine site maintainance. That is the way the cookie crumbles.
James Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), highlighted the trouble summer nutrition programs are currently facing. Weill made an appearance on C-Span yesterday discussing a new report released by his organization. The report discusses the economic strain on federal nutritional programs for low-income children and how to bolster them.
According to Weill, children aren’t just being fed less but they are not eating healthfully enough. Weill attributes the decline in these programs primarily to the economic problems faced by the states. The Center’s research shows that many states have cut back on funding, which resulted in one out of six children receiving summer lunches in July 2009. That figure is substantially smaller when compared to, “…a ratio of 17.3:100 children in July 2008 and 21.1:100 in 2001.” With states cutting back on spending, not only are children losing out on good programs, but states aren’t able to access more financial relief.
Massachusetts took initiative in solving this problem by creating legislation to enhance the federal bills already in place. Created in 1993, a childhood hunger relief act was enacted by the legislature. This legislation resulted in the state’s School Breakfast and Summer Food Service Outreach Programs. These programs are geared towards all children, with special attention paid to low-income participants. The state also has a Universal Breakfast program in place, which was responsible for feeding more than 111, 000 students last year. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education acknowledges its progress, but seems to be looking to expand its programs to reach even more children.
With the state’s primary coming up on September 14th, the candidates will be focusing on hot button issues, including where to make budget cuts. The Republican candidates for the 5th Congressional District include Sam Meas, Jon Golnik, Bob Shapiro, and Tom Weaver. With the Republicans endorsing limited spending, don’t be surprised if they aren’t inclined to fight for federal reimbursement of school programs. On the Democratic side, incumbent Niki Tsongas is running for reelection unopposed. Tsongas has a strong track record of listening to her constituency and bringing funds into the district, so it’s likely that she’d advocate for more federal funds.