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School district to take time in considering free-meals program

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 8:41 PM
Last updated Thursday, June 13, 2013 1:43 AM
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The Richmond County school district is likely to go slow in considering a federal program that would offer free breakfast and lunch to all its students.

Josephine Mack, the school nutrition director, presented information to the Richmond County Board of Education on Tuesday regarding the Community Eligibility Option, which was opened to Georgia school districts this year.

Under the option, now offered as a pilot program in 11 states, the federal government reimburses districts with a high percentage of low-income students for all breakfast and lunch meals served. Mack said the district would not lose money by participating and eliminates the application process for free and reduced-price lunches, reaching more needy students whose families never fill out applications.

“This is a wonderful thing,” Mack said. “What better way to care for children than provide them meals so they’re ready to learn?”

As enticing as the program might appear, Controller Gene Spires said there are technical problems that must be resolved before adopting it. Districts are eligible for the program if at least 40 percent of students receive food stamps or welfare or are homeless or in foster care, for example.

Free and reduced-price lunches are granted mostly on household income. Spires said switching to the option would change statistics that the district uses to apply for grant programs such as Title I and E-Rate, and he wants to be sure those programs will not be lost with the change in calculations.

“We can’t put that kind of money in jeopardy,” Spires said. “While it might help (the nutrition program) it might hurt others.”

Currently, 78 percent of Richmond County students receive free or reduced-price lunch. Mack said the district qualifies for Community Eligibility Option because 60 percent meet the new qualifications.

The program was formed under President Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and was first offered in 2011 to Illinois, Kentucky and Michigan and later expanded to other states. It will be open to all qualified schools in the country for the 2014-15 year.

Because the pilot program will begin in Georgia for the 2013-14 year, districts are in the application process and have not yet approved it. Dorie Nolt, the Georgia Department of Education assistant director of communications, said she does not have evidence that shows participating in the program would affect eligibility for other grant programs; instead, she said, it would offer meals to more children, remove the stigma for kids who receive free lunch and help nutrition programs financially.

“We want to make it easier for districts to get food to the kids who need it and help support learning through good nutrition,” Nolt said. “Kids can’t learn if they’re hungry.”

The Food Research and Action Cen­ter, the country’s leading nonprofit on hunger and malnutrition, conducted a survey in 2012 of the four states using the program. Every district recommended it and many reported an increase in the number of students receiving meals.

The center reported that the U.S. Department of Education will accept the option’s eligibility statistics to determine funding for other grant programs and that districts should not experience a decrease in food service revenue because of a corresponding increase in student participation and lower administrative costs.

Spires said he does not expect the issue to come before the board again this month and is waiting to get confirmation on the safety of the district’s other federal grant programs.

“Right now we’re going to have to wait,” he said.

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Riverman1
87646
Points
Riverman1 06/13/13 - 04:10 am
7
8
The county certainly meets

The county certainly meets the criteria with so many poor families. Mr. Spires appears to be unsure about the effects on other funding, but according to the state that money will not be jeopardized. I suggest Richmond County take advantage of the program and get to work on it immediately in order to have it in effect next year.

soapy_725
43817
Points
soapy_725 06/13/13 - 07:10 am
2
0
The county certainly meets
Unpublished

the criteria for a growing, prosperous, industrial job giant, everyone wants to live there place.

Augusta must be ahead of Detroit in this category.

seenitB4
91192
Points
seenitB4 06/13/13 - 07:18 am
12
3
78% get free or reduced prices already

Yes...children need food...I agree .....but what stuns me is the fact when I lived in richmond county we didn't have 78% in need.....my children went to school for 12 years ....12 grades & didn't get free lunches....& many friends & family also paid the full price....soooo I ask what happened?? The dear daddie government THINKS they know what is best for us......they messed up ROYALLY--BIG TIME----so thankya daddie gov for creating a cluster of poor hungry kids.

LillyfromtheMills
13978
Points
LillyfromtheMills 06/13/13 - 07:21 am
8
4
Sorry, sorry parents!

To think of all the money they get from the govt and the sorry parents can't even make a PB&J for them so they're not hungry - just makes me madder!

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 06/13/13 - 08:10 am
9
4
Go ahead, sign up!

And in several years when (not if) the state and feds cut the funding guess who'll be on the hook, Mr & Mrs Property Owner? If there are any left in the county who actually pay taxes.

Truth Matters
7331
Points
Truth Matters 06/13/13 - 08:13 am
3
7
Thank you

Just as soon as the Republicans create those jobs they were elected in 2010 to create, (or the climate that promotes it), we won't need this free lunch program.

Then the real daddy will have a job and can support his own family.

seenitB4
91192
Points
seenitB4 06/13/13 - 08:41 am
10
0
truth matters

The problem will be finding the real daddy.

They need to step up to the plate....we shouldn't have to wait for a Rep to do anything.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 06/13/13 - 09:14 am
9
2
I have no sympathy for
Unpublished

I have no sympathy for someone who is eligible for free lunch, and doesn't get it because they are too lazy to fill out the forms. This nanny state is so far out of control.

Old Timmer
260
Points
Old Timmer 06/13/13 - 09:34 am
9
2
Once again Admins don't get it!

This concept again shows how admins like Ms. Mack are so out-of-touch with operations of the current schools. I have seen first hand how kids on the free breakfast & lunch system waste the food. They take the food & throw over half, sometimes everything but the milk, in the trash. I also note that most of these kids dress fairly good & seem to always have chips, candy & drinks in their bookbags to eat at various times other than lunch. The waste of food is awful & free is not free, somebodies paying for it!

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 06/13/13 - 09:35 am
9
3
"...The dear daddie government

THINKS they know what is best for us......they messed up ROYALLY..."

No, sweetie, they know exactly what they're doing; creating a dependency class that will keep them in power.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 06/13/13 - 09:38 am
10
2
If the children have parents
Unpublished

If the children have parents who get food stamps, then why do we have to pay for their food at school too? Can't they pack a lunch consisting of food that we already bought for them? Surely they have some steak and lobster left over.

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 06/13/13 - 09:50 am
0
1
free kunch but $300.00
Unpublished

free kunch but $300.00 sneakers...its time to empty out "da pra-jecks" and let the rats, roaches, and vermin who can afford to pay that much money for name brand clothes and shoes start buying lunch for their own kids!!!!!!

bigj706
1256
Points
bigj706 06/13/13 - 09:50 am
2
8
Its funny how everybody knows

Its funny how everybody knows what a food stamps family buys for themselves. They are all in their basket wow! I have more things to do than worry about what someone is eating

justthefacts
23023
Points
justthefacts 06/13/13 - 09:50 am
7
0
Just a shame

This once great country is slowly, but surely sliding into the abyss.

allhans
24148
Points
allhans 06/13/13 - 09:55 am
3
1
Is it too much work for

Is it too much work for school employees to check the means of parents? Does so many kids actually qualify? Is the only requirement needed just a say-so.

deestafford
29130
Points
deestafford 06/13/13 - 10:00 am
8
1
This is hog wash!

What is wrong with the parents taking care of their own kids? It is the responsibility of the parents to provide food for the kids.

This hog wash about the kids not getting balanced meals and can't learn if the government doesn't provide for them is horse squeeze. There is nothing wrong with a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch will provide adequate meals for the kids. That was the way it was when I was going to school in the 40s and 50s and we survived.

There used to be people who were too proud to take government handouts but now they are called "entitlements" and are a badge of honor.

This is just another example of wasteful government spending and why we are drowning in debt. Parents should be responsible for their kids or not have them. If they have kids and can't support them, they should be put in an orphanage.

itsanotherday1
45610
Points
itsanotherday1 06/13/13 - 10:11 am
7
1
Then the real daddy will have a job and can support his own fami

Baloney. What family? How many intact families are going without? Not to mention, many of the sperm donating Johnny Appleseeds aren't qualified to do much more than wash cars or cut grass.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 06/13/13 - 10:18 am
9
1
"I have more things to do
Unpublished

"I have more things to do than worry about what someone is eating"

Well, when I'm paying for it, it matters to me.

Itsallnew11
547
Points
Itsallnew11 06/13/13 - 10:19 am
3
4
Why fault the children?

Why must we fault children for the actions of their irresponsible parents. Let the parents go hungry but these children didn't ask to be born into poverty or live in poverty. If we never make a way for them to learn and grow so they can break the cycle of poverty then they never will. I loath parents who are pushing out babies for tax and welfare purposes but it isn't the babies fault. Mr. Spires has every right to be concerned with how this new program will affect Title I and E-rate because those programs provide a lot for the schools in the more economically disadvantaged neighborhoods and technology that benefits all students. You can cut off one hand to hold the other. Burke County utilizes a free feeding program such as this one. It is a lot of hard work but is truly rewarding when the children are fed and thriving because someone cared enough to make the effort to provide for them. Not every student will appreciate these efforts but you can't take away from those who are appreciative because there are a few who aren't.

itsanotherday1
45610
Points
itsanotherday1 06/13/13 - 10:19 am
6
2
Another angle

Every dollar that a parent doesn't have to spend on feeding their child is another dollar said parent can invest in weed, crack, alcohol, cigarettes, cell phone minutes, nail do's, hair do's, etc., ad nauseum.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 06/13/13 - 10:20 am
4
1
"Its [sic] funny how
Unpublished

"Its [sic] funny how everybody knows what a food stamps family buys for themselves." (with MY money)

http://freedomandprosperity.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/receipt2.jpg

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 06/13/13 - 10:24 am
8
1
"Why must we fault children
Unpublished

"Why must we fault children for the actions of their irresponsible parents. Let the parents go hungry but these children didn't ask to be born into poverty or live in poverty. "

Keep tugging the heartstrings. "It's for the children." It is an impossible task and a fools errand to try to take care of all the children of irresponsible parents. Especially when you use money that you don't have.

itsanotherday1
45610
Points
itsanotherday1 06/13/13 - 10:26 am
8
0
"you can't take away from

"you can't take away from those who are appreciative because there are a few who aren't."

But we must. That sentiment is why we are in the entitlement predicament we have today. Every social program starts out with the best of intentions, but where there is free money, there will be sloth, fraud, and dependency. And though the truly needy will get fed and likely do better in school, they will still grow up believing free stuff from the taxpayers is the answer.

My motivation redirecting my life to more productive ends was BECAUSE I had an empty stomach and shabby clothes. That was good motivation to work hard and do better.

bigj706
1256
Points
bigj706 06/13/13 - 10:37 am
1
6
Its my money too but

Its my money too but complaining everyday isn't doing anything more to help my family I'm used to in my life time things not going my way, but apparently most people on here isn't just keep it moving

justthefacts
23023
Points
justthefacts 06/13/13 - 10:40 am
11
0
Conundrum

Obviously, no one wants the children to go hungry. The problem is the useless parent knows this.

john
1076
Points
john 06/13/13 - 10:41 am
6
0
wow

“What better way to care for children than provide them meals so they’re ready to learn?”

Um, Isn't that the parents job? 78%? Really?

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 06/13/13 - 10:43 am
6
1
"Its [sic]my money too but
Unpublished

"Its [sic]my money too but complaining everyday isn't doing anything more to help my family I'm used to in my life time things not going my way, but apparently most people on here isn't just keep it moving"[sic]

So you suggest that we just stay quiet and let the abuse continue? Please explain how that will help? At the very least, complaining about it makes others aware of problems that they may not have known.

itsanotherday1
45610
Points
itsanotherday1 06/13/13 - 10:56 am
3
0
When you read stories like this:

http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/health/2013-06-11/gru-resident-year-ov...

It is even more infuriating looking at people who are satisfied treading water with government hand-outs.

itsanotherday1
45610
Points
itsanotherday1 06/13/13 - 11:07 am
5
0
Good point

"At the very least, complaining about it makes others aware of problems that they may not have known."

It also gives those who bleed "for the chill-dren" some logical rebuttal on why, even though it is an admirable and understandable sentiment, in the long run is not the answer.

For those that don't get it, maybe this youtube clip will help: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaklEq36_dk

CAUTION! The guy throws the eff bomb a few times. Don't watch if that offends you.

t3bledsoe
14291
Points
t3bledsoe 06/13/13 - 11:57 am
6
0
HA, your GOOD comments are too numerous to cut and paste

I could not cut and paste ALL of your GOOD comments !! I agree totally with you. Keep it up !

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