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No such thing as a free meal

By Linh Tat
Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 at 12:53 pm in Education, Fremont Unified, New Haven Unified, Newark Unified.

A story in today’s paper mentions that the state may run out of funds for its school breakfast/lunch program before the end of the fiscal year unless the Legislature will appropriate more money.

By law, low-income public school children must be fed. With the sputtering economy, more families are signing up for the free and low-cost meals, which are subsidized by state and federal dollars. However, as our story reported, money is running out, and some districts are feeling the pinch.

What the article failed to mention is that neither the Fremont nor New Haven school district has seen a significant spike in new applicants. For some unknown reason, the stuff I wrote about Tri-City school districts was left out of the story, which was put together by our team of ed reporters. So here are a few highlights from my report:

* During the 2007-08 school year, 19.9 percent of Fremont students, 31.1 percent of New Haven students and 40 percent of Newark students received free/low-cost meals.

* This year, about 30 percent of New Haven students qualify for the meals program.

* Fremont’s Assistant Superintendent of Business Bill Stephens said the increased cost of the meals programs is of “modest concern,” considering the district may have to cut $10 million midyear. Also, the district could draw from a special reserve to pay for the meals program this year.

image from a la corey’s site at flickr.com

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