Fighting hunger in public schools

Fighting hunger in public schools

Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed legislation this week to provide free breakfast and lunch for all public school students who are in the reduced-price lunch program. Currently, the federal government helps school districts cover part of the expense of the program. Under Rep. Kyle Green’s Act 305, the state will pick up the remaining amount, which will benefit the families of approximately 7,000 students. BR Proud’s Shannon Heckt reports: 

“What I’m trying to do is ensure that those children get at least two good meals a day,” Green said. He said children face “lunch shaming” from other students when they can’t afford to get a full meal. Schools have to give nutritional snacks to kids who can’t pay for their meals, which alerts their peers to their inability to pay and could lead to bullying. “There are a lot of kids, if you just based it on the numbers, [who] are probably going to school hungry,” Green said.

Can Louisiana be trusted to regulate carbon capture?
Supporters and opponents of carbon capture technology gathered for a public hearing on Tuesday over whether the state should take regulatory control away from the federal government. The Environmental Protection Agency’s three-day public comment period focused on Louisiana’s application for “primacy” (or direct control) over the wells that are used to inject carbon dioxide deep underground. So far, only two states – North Dakota and Wyoming – have such control. As The Advocate’s Robert Stewart reports, opponents warned that Louisiana has a long history of siding with industrial polluters over its people and shouldn’t be trusted to oversee a technology that remains unproven:  

Logan Burke, executive director of the Alliance for Affordable Energy, called the regulatory transfer a “threat to our future and safety,” in part because of the anticipated speed with which the state could approve new wells. Burke said the EPA has only permitted two Class VI wells nationwide. Meanwhile, North Dakota has already permitted five. “Industry is waiting for the famously under-resourced and permissive DNR to have the authority to hand out permits,” she said.

Tune into a webinar hosted by Taproot Earth and Louisiana Progress next Monday to hear from LBP executive director Jan Moller and others on important climate and environmental policies during the 2023 legislative session.

We’re getting older
The U.S. population is older than ever before, according to new U.S. Census data. The Bureau reports that the median age reached a record high of 38.9 in 2022. For perspective, the average age in 2000 was 35, while the average age in 1980 was 30. The New York Times’ Dana Goldstein explains how low birth rates are driving the aging population.  

“It’s simple arithmetic,” said Andrew A. Beveridge, president of Social Explorer, a demographic data firm. “Fewer kids are being born.” Birthrates fell steeply in the first year or so of the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, they have ticked up. Still, since the beginning of the Great Recession, in 2007, fertility has remained very low compared with previous generations. …  Across industrialized nations, women of the millennial generation have been more likely to prioritize education and work in their 20s, leading to them marrying older and having fewer children, according to researchers.

Goldstein also reports on the increased diversity of the population and which places are attracting people. 

Between 2021 and 2022, the nation’s Asian population grew by 2.4 percent; the Hispanic population by 1.7 percent; the Black population by 0.9 percent; and the white population by 0.1 percent. The Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander population increased by 1.8 percent and the American Indian population increased by 1.3 percent. Southern and Western states have attracted the most new residents in recent years, and those states are also some of the most dynamic demographically, according to the new census data.

Evictions are on the rise
Homelessness in some American cities is 50% higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic. While federal pandemic relief decreased homelessness over the past two plus years, expiring aid, soaring rent prices and a lack of eviction protection for renters have driven those numbers back up. The AP’s Michael Casey and R.J. Rico report: 

Most low-income tenants can no longer count on pandemic resources that had kept them housed, and many are finding it hard to recover because they haven’t found steady work or their wages haven’t kept pace with the rising cost of rent, food and other necessities. … “Across the country, low-income renters are in an even worse situation than before the pandemic due to things like massive increases in rent during the pandemic, inflation and other pandemic-era related financial difficulties.” (Daniel Grubbs-Donovan, a research specialist at Princeton University’s Eviction Lab)

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Sonya Acosta explains how Congress can provide relief to renters as rising prices continue to make housing unaffordable. 

Number of the Day
37% – Percentage of Louisianans that have some sort of debt in collections. The Pelican State ranked third in the nation for highest debt burden. (Source: