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350,000 CHILDREN TO BE DEPRIVED OF FREE SCHOOL MEALS

350,000 CHILDREN TO BE DEPRIVED OF FREE SCHOOL MEALS

Postby RichardWSymonds » Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:33 am

http://m.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/ ... pe=article

The Guardian
19.04.12
Updated 08.35

350,000 children 'will lose free school meals in welfare reform'

Free school lunches are the main meal of the day for many children, says the Children's Society. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian
Randeep Ramesh, social affairs editor
The Guardian, Thu 19 Apr 2012 06.00 BST

More than 350,000 children will lose their free school meals under the government's radical plans to reform welfare entitlement next year, an analysis by the Children's Society has warned.
In a report entitled Fair and Square, the charity says the proposed universal credit system, which comes into force in October 2013, will stop paying for certain benefits if a household earns more than £7,500.
At present the welfare system compensates poor families with cash from the tax credit system.
The result is that 120,000 poorer families are likely lose free school meals, worth £367 a year, unless they dropped their earnings below the threshold of £7,500. This would mean parents having to cut the numbers of hours worked or take a pay cut to keep their benefits.
The charity says that although the universal credit, which is a single payment designed to replace a plethora of benefits, was supposed to simplify the current system it will end up replicating some of worst aspects of the old one.
"Because of how universal credit entitlement is structured – with high withdrawal rates of benefits when earning more or working longer hours – many of the families affected will have to earn far more before they recover the loss of free school meals."
Parents would have to garner "unrealistic" pay rises before the loss of benefits could be recouped.
As an example, it says that a lone parent with three children earning just below £7,500 a year would need to get a pay rise of 60% or £4,500 to compensate for the loss of free school meals under the new benefit.
The report argues that the system does need reform as it estimates more than half of all schoolchildren living in poverty – 1.2 million – are missing out on free school meals. Another 700,000 are not entitled to free school meals at all.
However, it adds that universal credit, as currently envisaged, seems a step backward.
Free school meals provide vital financial support for low-income families, argues the charity. For almost a third of children, school lunch is their main meal of the day.
Elaine Hindal of the Children's Society said: "If the government introduces a free school meals earnings threshold into the universal credit, then as many as 120,000 families could end up in the perverse situation where they are better off taking a pay cut, or working fewer hours. This could mean 350,000 children suffering as a result.
"It is exactly this kind of problem that universal credit set out to solve. The government can and must address this by extending free school meals to all families in receipt of universal credit."
At the heart of the debate is a split in the coalition. Some ministers think universal credit would create a very complicated system that is very difficult to administer. To ensure that half of children in poverty get free school meals would cost an extra £1bn – galling at a time of fiscal restraint.
Stephen Twigg, Labour's shadow education secretary, said "the government has shown a scant disregard for the welfare of some of the poorest children in England" and he would be considering how to tackle the issue as part of the party's "policy review".
The Department for Education said it would be consulting on the issue "later this year".
Children's minister Sarah Teather said: "We remain totally committed to continuing to provide free school meals to children from the poorest families.
"We are reforming welfare to get more people into jobs as that is the surest way of cutting poverty.
"The reforms mean we will have to think hard about the best way to decide who is eligible for FSM so they continue to be targeted at those who need them the most. No plans have yet been set and we will be consulting later this year about the best way forward."
Last edited by RichardWSymonds on Mon May 02, 2016 12:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 350,000 Children To Be Deprived Of Free School Meals

Postby RichardWSymonds » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:00 am

THE INDEPENDENT STATEMENT

What have I already done for the Ward I aim to represent?

Pound Hill was my first ever ward as an election candidate, when WSCC deprived hot meals to 64.000 primary-aged children - "to save money".
I have never forgotten the support and encouragement given then, and so it will be a delight to represent this special community now.

What will I do for Pound Hill North, if elected ?

1. Ensure Pound Hill North becomes more special, by being known as the first community which supported a Crawley & Gatwick (Unitary) City Council, independent of WSCC in Chichester.

2. Ensure elderly & disabled are not "cut out of care" by cuts.

3. Ensure parking scheme is fair, and pot-holes are repaired on time.
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Re: 350,000 Children To Be Deprived Of Free School Meals

Postby RichardWSymonds » Mon May 02, 2016 12:44 am

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2016/04 ... -programs/

House Republicans Want To Cut Free School Lunch Programs

BY CORY HERRO APR 28, 2016 11:39 AM

House lawmakers are quietly fighting to roll back a section of a 2010 school nutrition bill that provides students in high-poverty schools with free lunches. If successful, their proposed cuts would greatly reduce the number of schools eligible for free or subsidized meal programs.
Although the 2010 bill survived budget cuts in January, thanks to the Senate’s support, the House Education and Workforce Committee is not as eager to see it through. The bill originally provided free lunches and after-school meals to every student enrolled in a public school where at least 40 percent of its study body lived in low-income households. Last week, lawmakers began pushing to only allow schools this privilege if they have a majority of their students living at or near the poverty line — 60 percent. For a family of four, that would mean making less than $31,000 per year.
These low income students are the ones currently eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.These low income students are the ones currently eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.
This battled provision, called “community eligibility” for free lunches, has been applauded by lawmakers and advocates for eliminating school meal applications and the stigmatized free-lunch line. It helps under-resourced schools save time and administrative work — “[shifting] resources from paperwork to higher-quality meals or other educational priorities,” according to Zoë Neuberger of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
Without it, Neuberger said these already under-resourced schools in high-poverty communities would be additionally burdened with more paperwork and administrative work. Plus, she argued, community eligibility programs don’t just benefit the children who are dubbed “low income.” According to a 2014 study by the CBPP, “high-poverty neighborhoods, which can be violent, stressful, and environmentally hazardous, can impair children’s cognitive development, school performance, mental health, and long-term physical health — even if the family itself is not low-income.”
If passed, the new standard would revoke eligibility for 7,022 schools serving 3.4 million students. Additionally, another 11,647 schools that qualify for community eligibility, but have not yet adopted it, would lose eligibility, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found.
Within two years, students at these schools would have to go back to applying for free lunches and proving their eligibility in lunch lines — a delay-fraught process that leaves schools heavy with paperwork and students emotionally vulnerable.
When Congress passed Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010, it focused primarily on reducing levels of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease — side effects of the bill’s leading target: poverty. The legislation not only improved nutritional standards for school lunches, requiring more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains — it boosted funding for free and reduced-price lunch programs and after-school programs.
The Act improved school nutrition for more than 31 million students nationwide, half of whom live in low income households and qualify for free and reduced-price lunches. For many of these students, free lunches are their only reliable source of food during the week.

Related Post
Nutrition Experts Fight To Prevent GOP From Rolling Back Healthy School Lunches

House Education and Workforce Committee members defended the new standard, saying it would save taxpayer dollars. “The reforms in this legislation will allow states and schools to better serve their students and families, while also ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent effectively and responsibly,” Rep. John Kline (R) said in a press release.
Rep. Todd Rotika (R) added that the bill would "fight fraud, waste, and abuse."
Critics say the 40 percent threshold isn’t wasteful, but properly identifies schools in need. "[In] schools with such high concentrations of poverty, students who don’t qualify for free or reduced-price meals are typically not much better off than those who do qualify," wrote Neuberger.
The money spent is an investment in children’s academic performances, said Margaret Allen, superintendent of Montgomery, Alabama schools, where a quarter of children live in poverty.
"Many of our families live below the poverty line,” she told the Montgomery Advertiser in 2014. “Even those that don't may skip meals to save money. [Universal free lunches] will ensure learning won't suffer because a student is hungry at school."

Cory Herro is an intern at ThinkProgress.

TAGS NutritionPublic SchoolSchool Lunches
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