School Lunch Programs

Some schools cut lunch options for kids who struggle to pay, By Alex Johnson, February 21, 2011, “At the turn of the new year, the Lee County, Fla., public schools were losing about $2,000 a week on school lunches. Then came the cheese sandwiches. When classes resumed Jan. 3 after the winter break, the district – the 40th-largest in the United States, with about 80,000 pupils – had a problem. Up to 1,100 pupils weren’t paying for their meals, school officials say. Because the National School Lunch Program, or NSLP, requires participating schools to provide nourishing meals for all pupils, what do school administrators do if a pupil shows up in the lunchroom with no cash and with no money left in his or her electronic meal account? Most raise their prices for kids who can pay, according to research by the nonprofit School Nutrition Association, which found that nearly 60 percent of public school districts raised lunch prices in 2009, the last full year for which national figures were available…”

Population Decrease in US Counties

In quarter of U.S. counties, deaths outnumbering births, By Hope Yen and John Raby (AP), February 23, 2011, Las Vegas Review-Journal: “In America’s once-thriving coal country, 87-year-old Ed Shepard laments a prosperous era gone by, when shoppers lined the streets and government lent a helping hand. Now, here as in one-fourth of all U.S. counties, West Virginia’s graying residents are slowly dying off. Hit by an aging population and a poor economy, a near-record number of U.S. counties are experiencing more deaths than births in their communities, a phenomenon demographers call ‘natural decrease.’ Years in the making, the problem is spreading amid a job slump and a push by Republicans in Congress to downsize government and federal spending…”