. . .

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Provision 2 vs. Universal Feeding

While the USDA has changed its mind about canceling the "pilot" Universal Feeding Program that has been active in Philadelphia for almost two decades, the issue served to bring up another important point - fact checking!

Most, if not all, media and politicians (i.e. Philadelphia Inquirer, Senator Arlen Specter) reported that Provision 2, the alternative that would had replace the Universal Feeding Program, would leave students hungry because paper applications would be too big of an obstacle to free/reduced lunches. However, reading the USDA's Provision 2 Guidelines reveals that in reality, students would still get their free meals. While there's not much information regarding the Universal Feeding Program available, it appears that a school must meet a certain socioeconomic criteria that proves roughly 72-75% of its student population would qualify for free/reduced lunches - if this is met, then all students would be provided free lunches. Under Provision 2, schools would have to distribute applications in the first year of the Program to get an idea of the percentages of qualifying free/reduced/paid lunches in the school (for reimbursement purposes). However, all students will still get a free lunch regardless of whether they file an application or whether they qualify for a free meal.

So if all students get their free lunches anyway, the only critical consideration is which program offers the lower error rate in terms of calculating the percentages of qualifying free/reduced/paid lunches used for school reimbursements from the federal government. Differences in these percentages would effectively shift the cost of the lunches between the local and federal governments.

This sticking point is something that has been grossly misrepresented - more so not represented at all - by the media. It's not who gets fed, it's who's forking out the cash that's the issue.


Post a Comment

Don't be shy, share your thoughts! Just be polite :)