A friend of mine went ballistic this week over the Board of Education’s rejection of a proposed increase in the price of school meals. In an email, he blasted the decision as “sad” and “a poor joke.”
The state DOE needs to be renamed the state Department of Welfare.
the board of education actually thinks lunch for $2.35 and breakfast for $1 is too expensive ….. in the year 2010???? that is just sad.
Did Hawaii become part of Cuba? if not, why is there so much focus on the cost of lunch when the lack of education in Hawaii is the real problem that leads to sustained poverty for way too many people? what a poor joke. Pressure needs to be placed on Abercrombie to appoint to appoint people who can oversee a useful education system in this state.
It seems to me that the presumption that affordable school meals are somehow separate from learning problems is invalid. So I replied.
I think you’re wrong on this one.
Kids can’t learn when they’re hungry.
We have a very large percentage of kids who qualify for free meals, but that likely means many more just out of that category.
If a family has several children, the cost of meals ads up to several hundred dollars a month.
Rationally, subsidizing meals is less expensive than paying for the additional educational infrastructure necessary to try to squeeze additional performance out of hungry kids.
So lighten up on the Cuba rhetoric.
Kids nutrition is directly related to educational performance and ability to learn. There’s plenty of research to back that up.
The BOE apparently had a similar view. Its press release offers this explanation:
“A hungry student cannot learn,” Toguchi said, noting that new meal prices just took effect in January, when lunch rose from $1.25 to the current $2.20, and breakfast increased from 35 cents to 95 cents.
“While some families may be able to absorb what appears to be a modest increase, students in the so-called ‘gap’ group would not qualify for free and reduced lunch,” Toguchi added. “These are the very same families whose students are also ineligible for state subsidies available for afterschool programs and bus transportation – services that have already become more expensive.”
What’s interesting is that while the increase was rejected by an 8-2 vote of the board, the vote came as an abrupt about face. The recommendation from the board’s Committee on Administrative Services cited no arguments against the proposal, although it did observe that student achievement could suffer if more students skipped meals, and some jobs could be cut if fewer students bought lunches.
But the committee concluded the price hike was necessary to comply with SB 160 SD2, passed as Act 26 (2009), which mandates that fees cover half of the costs of the student meals. There is no indication in the committee reports or record of testimony that anyone other than the Department of Education took a position on the bill, and it passed without controversy.
A bit more reporting is certainly in order to see what brought about what seems to be a very abrupt turn against the fee proposal.