School districts across the country offering universal free lunch options

Starting May 1, community eligibility will be available to schools in all 50 states.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Hunger crises do their greatest damage to those who are already most vulnerable: The poor, the elderly, the disabled, and, of course, children. As a result of America’s present hunger crisis, one-fifth of all households with children are classified as food insecure by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which which defines food security as “access … to enough food for an active, healthy life.”

In total, 8.3 million children in this country are not getting the food they need. At the same time, food stamp cuts have put extraordinary strain on both public and private anti-hunger programs, to the point where even many food pantries and soup kitchens are unable to meet the basic needs of their clients. The food security safety net is fraying to the breaking point.

But there is one notable exception to the overall trend. Even as Congress signs off on billions of dollars in food stamp cuts, the federal government is dramatically expanding its free school meals program. Thanks to a 2010 law championed by first lady Michelle Obama, a growing number of schools across the country are offering free meals to all of their students, regardless of whether those students’ parents applied for the program.

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The new unpaid-balance policy at Canon-McMillan School District in Pittsburgh is making waves after a former cafeteria worker sounded off about the practice on social media.

Stacy Koltiska said she quit her job with the district after being forced to take hot meals away from students who owed lunch money, CBS News reports .

Under a new policy that was implemented at Canon-McMillan this year, students whose lunch debt exceeds $25 are not allowed to receive a hot lunch. Children in grades K-6 are given a sandwich in its place, and older students receive no lunch. A recent...

Industry News & Opinion

Due to low participation in its lunch program, Talawanda School District in Oxford, Ohio, is raising the price of school meals this year, Patch.com reports .

The cost of school lunches will see a 30-cent increase, half of which is being enacted to cover the district’s budget. The other half is being required by the government to cover the cost of free and reduced-price lunches provided to low-income families. Prior to this year, the district had not raised prices since 2009.

The district’s cafeterias have experienced a decline in student participation since implementing the...

Industry News & Opinion

Six Philadelphia hospitals were honored by the city’s department of public health for healthy food initiatives introduced as part of the local Good Food, Healthy Hospitals program, bizjournals.com reports .

The hospitals each debuted healthy measures to their dining services, such as lowering the cost of water bottles and seltzers, and offering dishes that incorporate local produce. One hospital was also honored for operating its own organic farm.

The facilities that were honored were:

Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Eastern...
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When planning your menus, take note: college and university students think spicy is hot.

Fifty-seven percent of consumers age 18-34 find spicy flavors, “extremely appealing,” according to Technomic. And almost 50% of college students surveyed said they would like their schools to offer more ethnic foods and beverages, states a recent Technomic College & University Consumer Trend Report. Translation: they like their food kicked up a notch!

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“Students of today are all about flavor,” says Steve Mangan, director of dining for...

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