Only Good Stuff: School kids get to eat for free, City Harvest food rescue, a town gave poor people money and it was awesome, and more…

The good stuff  happening in poverty and food justice….

♥ In September, West Virginia rolled out their non-income qualification free meal program in schools . Now , thanks to  what’s called the Community Eligibility Option, more cities are offering free meals to kids. The program is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that authorized $4.5 billion in new program funding. So far, Boston , Atlanta, Detroit,Washington,D.C. , Grand Rapids, and Elmira . Jacksonville, Florida also has Universally Free Breakfast Program.

♥ I love seeing updates on my Facebook and Twitter feed from City Harvest. This NYC group rescues food that would otherwise be wasted and distributes it to people who need it.
For example:
“Produce can be hard to come by for New Yorkers in need. This morning we’re distributing 19,000 pounds of produce free of charge at our Mobile Market in Washington Heights/Inwood. We’re giving out nectarines, cabbages, peaches, onions and potatoes!”
Photo: Produce can be hard to come by for New Yorkers in need. This morning we're distributing 19,000 pounds of produce free of charge at our Mobile Market in Washington Heights/Inwood. We're giving out nectarines, cabbages, peaches, onions and potatoes!

California is raising their minimum wage to $10 an hour. This isn’t as high as San Francisco’s $10.55/hour or Long Beach’s new proposed $13/hour but booya,California.

♥ Back in the 1970s, a town in Canada did an experiment which involved giving poor people money. The data is just now being put out there…

For four years Dauphin was a place where anyone living below the poverty line could receive monthly cheques to boost their income, no questions asked. Single mothers could afford to put their kids through school and low-income families weren’t scrambling to pay the rent each month.

Initially, the Mincome program was conceived as a labour market experiment. The government wanted to know what would happen if everybody in town received a guaranteed income, and specifically, they wanted to know whether people would still work.

It turns out they did.

Only two segments of Dauphin’s labour force worked less as a result of Mincome—new mothers and teenagers. Mothers with newborns stopped working because they wanted to stay at home longer with their babies. And teenagers worked less because they weren’t under as much pressure to support their families.

The end result was that they spent more time at school and more teenagers graduated. Those who continued to work were given more opportunities to choose what type of work they did.

If a guaranteed income program can target more people and is more efficient than other social assistance programs, then why doesn’t Canada have such a program in place already? Perhaps the biggest barrier is the prevalence of negative stereotypes about poor people.

“There’s very strong feelings out there that we shouldn’t give people money for nothing,”

So here’s some evidence that unconditional benefits make people happier and healthier and do not lead to laziness.

In the period that Mincome was administered, hospital visits dropped 8.5 per cent. An 8.5 per cent decrease in hospital visits across Canada would save the government $4 billion annually, by her calculations. And $4 billion is the amount that the federal government is curren tly trying to save by slashing social programming and arts funding.


India’s upper house is taking up a massive food security bill that aims to provide heavily subsidised food to two-thirds of the population.

It was approved by the lower house last week.

The bill intends to cover more than 800 million Indians and seeks to address the needs of some of the poorest families.

Each person qualifying for the aid will be entitled to five kilograms of rice, wheat and coarse cereals at a nominal price every month.

The programme has been estimated to bring food subsidy costs up to $19.6bn this financial year, almost $5bn dollars more than current spending.

♥ I’m a month late on celebrating this news but L.A. will now longer be fined for gardening the strip of land between their house and the street.   Hey, thanks, Ron Finley!

♥  A documentary about an educational project called Barefoot University, that offers illiterate women living in poverty an opportunity to train to become solar engineers.


Know of any positive things happening in the area of food and poverty justice? Use the form below to send me a private email or scroll down to leave a public comment.

Feed To Achieve Anti-Hunger Campaign Begins in West Virginia

Feed To Achieve program begins soon in West Virginia

The first phase of West Virginia’s anti-hunger program Feed To Achieve will begin soon, starting with breakfast.
The law is designed to ensure ALL children receive meals, regardless of income. I wrote about this when the bill was passed here.

I was mad because this dude thought kids should work for their food…

Rick Goff , executive director of the Office of Child Nutrition at the state Department of Education, says there is a lot of misconceptions about the program.

“The misconception is that it’s going to feed everyone for free. That’s not the case. But, it is the goal. What you’re able to do is dependent on how much funding you have,” he said. “We have to be very cognizant of the fact that if we collect private-sector funds, we need to be careful not to implement programs that aren’t sustainable.”

For example, Goff said, if an individual or a company donated $10,000 to a school district, it’s unlikely a universal feeding program could be maintained, but the funding could be used to purchase food to send home or used for transportation costs to get students to feeding sites.

Of the 52 counties with eligible schools, 14 are resisting the programming . They don’t have directors of nutrition as awesome as Diane Miller, I guess.

“We’re basically creating an atmosphere that’s conducive to learning and eating. I’ve seen an explosion of participation since breakfast was moved into the classroom. Students love it,” said Diane Miller, the county’s executive director for food and nutrition. “It’s not a disruption like some teachers might think. Students might learn better if they’re not hungry.”

Miller said that while she can’t speak for other counties, any extra work that comes with the new law is worth it to Kanawha County Schools to provide more for needy students.

“Some feel it’s an aggressive approach, but in Kanawha County, we took the aggressive approach in order to allow healthier eating and enable all children, regardless of socioeconomic status, to eat,” she said.

It’s always baffling when school administrators don’t recognize the connection between food….enough of it and the quality of it…. and school performance and even more, when they don’t jump at the opportunity to provide all students with equal access to food. Hopefully they’ll all get with the program soon.