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The importance and brilliance ofUS Department of Agriculture's Community Eligibility Option, signed into law by President Obama last December as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, cannot be overstated.

What does it do?

For one, it directly targets and infuses money into poor neighborhoods.

For another it cuts the bullshit class warfare arguments in a community and just helps EVERY child in a given school district...no more pissing and moaning about why the poorest get free school lunches and breakfasts. It removes a tool to pit the middle class against the poor.

For another-nother, it also does this

A major goal of the program is to eliminate the stigma of receiving a free lunch, said Howard Leikert, supervisor of the state education department’s school nutrition programs.

Okay...not only is this program designed to help children with low income get access to a hot meal during the day, it is explicitly designed...EXPLICITLY DESIGNED to eliminate any stigma of receiving a free lunch or breakfast in a community.

The program evaluates the economic eligibility of an entire school or district, rather than individual students, and if 40 percent of the school or district’s students qualify for free lunches, all students get them.

and

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimatesup to 10,000 schools in the country’s poorest neighborhoods will be able to participate, starting with the 2011-12 school year.

“Families won’t have to complete applications providing detailed information on their income. And schools won’t have to process those applications or have a cashier figure out whether to provide a free or reduced-price meal every time a child goes through the lunch line,” Zoe Neuberger, a senior policy analyst with the Center, wrote in a blog post.

This is direct help for POOR COMMUNITIES.

DIRECTLY targeting poor communities. DIRECTLY reducing financial burden on ALL FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN in poor communities.

The city of Flint, Michigan will be among the first communities in the Nation to receive free lunches for the entire school system.

Last year, 81 percent of Flint students qualified for free lunches, according to Michigan Department of Education data from last fall, the most recent figures available.

Education Department figures show about 41 percent of the state’s (Michigan) 1.57 million students qualify for the meals.

EIGHTY ONE PERCENT of children in FLINT. 81%!

What makes one qualify?

Free and reduced lunch eligibility is set using poverty levels. For example, students from families making at or below 130 percent of the poverty level — $28,665 for a family of four — qualified for free meals last school year.

Families have been getting HAMMERED nationwide.

This law DIRECTLY TARGETS low income FAMILIES and low income, high poverty COMMUNITIES.

Originally posted to Muskegon Critic on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 04:28 PM PDT.

Also republished by The Yes We Can Pragmatists, Good News, and Progressive Messaging.

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