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New Vermont Program Provides Free Breakfast and Lunch
for Low-Income Students
Vermont has launched a program to provide free breakfast and lunch to low-income students. It’s the first state to offer both meals at no charge to students who meet the federal threshold for free or reduced-price meals, according to Stateline.org.
Under the National School Lunch Program, children whose families earn less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for reduced-price meals, while those whose families earn less than 130 percent are eligible for free meals.
The state has provided free breakfasts to students qualifying for reduced-price meals since 2008, but the new law allows those students also to have lunch at no cost. Last year, around 31,000 Vermont students were eligible for free meals, with about 6,000 more eligible for reduced-price meals.
The new program, to be funded by the state’s general fund, is expected to cost the state between approximately $400,000 per year.
In Vermont, officials hope the new program will help to alleviate hunger among students and reduce the levels of behavioral, emotional and academic problems associated with childhood hunger.
“We all know that hungry children can’t learn,” Gov. Peter Shumlin said at a recent visit to an elementary school in Barre, Vt. “I am very proud that Vermont is the first state to ensure that all children have access to good food, so that they can focus on their education without worrying whether they will be hungry.”
Colorado and Texas recently passed laws to provide free breakfast to all students in schools where a certain percentage of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
MOOSE ON THE LOOSE
Connecticut is warning its residents to stay away from wild moose after a series of recent sightings, The Day, a daily newspaper in eastern Connecticut, reported Sept. 24. The state’s Department of Energy and Environment alerted the public that while moose are usually shy creatures, they can behave unpredictably when in populated areas. Experts estimate the moose population in Connecticut is between 100 and 150 animals.
VETERANS AID FUND
Gov. Jack Markell in September signed a bill creating the Delaware Veterans Trust Fund, The News Journal of Dover reported. The fund will provide financial assistance and grants to veterans to cover medical bills, home repairs, transportation and education expenses. The fund was started with $25,000 in one-time state funding and has been added to a list of programs that can receive contributions from personal income tax filings.
Major utility companies in Massachusetts are turning to wind power as a cost-effective source of electricity. The state Department of Public Utilities announced three utility companies have entered into long-term contracts to purchase wind-generated electricity at costs lower than more conventional forms of power, The Boston Globe reported. The projects are expected to be operational between 2014 and 2016.
BUSINESS TAX INCENTIVES
Two streamlined state incentive programs in New Jersey will offer millions of dollars in tax breaks to businesses and developers that create and maintain jobs in the state, The Record of Woodland Park, N.J., reported. A new state law, the Economic Opportunity Act, dismantled three previous incentives programs and streamlined them into two new ones—Grow New Jersey and Economic Redevelopment and Growth.
Aspiring teachers in New York will face higher standards when applying to the state’s teacher education program at the State University of New York, The Times Union of Albany, N.Y., reported. New state standards for admission to the teacher and principal preparation programs will require a minimum 3.0 grade point average and higher scores on the Graduate Record Examination. The new standards are part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s state education reform initiative.