Daley Weekly: Power of the Pope and Political Patter

Speaker Boehner

I have only met Speaker John Boehner in a favorite restaurant near the Capitol. Brief encounters over cigarettes. Seemed like a personable fellow, easy to meet and easy to smile. He also did not have the deep mean streak that seems to dominate the approach of the deeply conservative members of the Republican Caucus. He was constantly forced into the corner by the most vocal and vitriolic.

Boehner is a Catholic and it is impossible not to see an influence from the visit of the Pope in the timing of his announcement to resign from the Speakership and the Congress. Boehner wept openly during the Pope’s address on Thursday. He apparently quoted the Pope’s prayer during his resignation announcement.

While almost every political position Boehner took is inimical to my own, I do not find his resignation a good thing. It can only make the mess in D.C. worse. It probably means that there will be no immediate government shutdown. A bigger longshot is the speculation that Boehner could bring forth a vote on immigration reform –but the Pope was pretty clear and it is an emotional moment.

Global Traffic Jam

Something like 150 heads of state rolling around the U.S. snarling traffic and taxing the security resources of a dozen cities. They include a Pope, a Chinese President, the Indian Prime Minister, and Russian President Putin.  The Pope easily cornered the charisma market, not that a guy like Putin has any chance at charisma anyway. But the Pope was really cool and pretty much took over D.C. this week.

Francis Hugs Sophie

After meeting with the President the Pope took a brief tour in the Pope-mobile and greeted the crowds around the nearby Ellipse. Little Sophie Cruz, the five-year-old daughter of undocumented immigrants, slipped through the street barriers and was grabbed by the security detail. The Pope called for her to come to him and the guards lifted her up for an embrace. She gave him a t-shirt and a note with a drawing celebrating the diversity of color among her friends. The message on the shirt, “Papa Rescate DAPA,” asks the Pope to save the deferred prosecution policy of the Administration that could keep her parents from deportation.

If you missed this magical little moment you can google up any number of news stories to see how a loving Francis gives an abrazo to a brave little girl.

Is the Pope Catholic?

Thursday morning the Pope addressed the U.S. Congress to the chagrin of many who see him as at best mistaken or at worst an evil force in the world. The Pope spoke about immigration and climate change in spite of the outpouring of scorn from the right. Rush Limbaugh calls him a Marxist. Right wing radio host Alex Jones claims that Francis is a socialist tool. Columnist George Will panned the Pope’s position on climate change as “reactionary.”

It goes on and on – Communist, hostile to free enterprise, under the influence of global warming extremists. Those who fail to understand that global warming and how we treat our immigrant neighbors are moral issues have not established credentials to preach.

In one of those tiny little ironies that we so enjoy, we note that, when the Pope spoke about how the Golden Rule should lead us to respect human life at all of its stages, the anti-abortion gang rose and cheered, expecting an affirmation of their ideology. When this immediately turned into a plea for the abolition of the death penalty, they all sat down.

Congress

It is becoming apparent that we need a new pill designed to prevent unwanted government shutdowns. After showing initial promise, the abstinence approach seems to have completely broken down and, without an effective form of pharmaceutical intervention, the leadership might have to resort to “troubling” surgical procedures in order to prevent this issue from coming to term.

Neither Speaker Boehner nor Majority Leader Mitch McConnell want another shutdown, but they can’t seem to prevent the adolescents from messing around. No matter what the parents want, the kids are reacting to their primal instincts.  The anti-choice contingent wants the government to be shut down rather than to permit any funds going to Planned Parenthood.

Here’s a little problem for the anti-choice, first stone throwers – Planned Parenthood has not used federal money for abortions for decades due to a little something known as the Hyde Amendment.  So the shutdown crowd actually is after the counseling, pre-natal care and contraception programs provided by the organization, not abortion.

On a procedural vote, the Senate stopped efforts to pass Planned Parenthood de-funding language in a Continuing Resolution intended to give the short term funding needed to avoid a shutdown.  It looks as though Majority Leader McDonnell might be able to get through some bill that keeps the government running for a while and Boehner’s surprise announcement probably means something like it will pass the House.

Highway Funding

The debate over the big shutdown should be over in a week or so and then they will start in on efforts to change the tax code to the advantage of the big multinational corporations. Their excuse for taking this up is the need to do something about the Highway Trust Fund. Back in August they passed a temporary fix that keeps the Trust going until October 29.  It was the 34th extension of this fund dating back to the 2008 recession. None of these fixes really did anything to leap forward and begin modernizing the rail system, no real growth and expansion like they are doing in Europe or China.

Infrastructure planning by chaos. Now the need for money just to keep the Fund afloat for a while is being used as blackmail in order to “reform” the international tax code in order to let the corporations further reduce their tax obligations.

Presidential Stuff

Lots of media fascination with Donald Trump, but the really big story that has lasting implications is the success of Bernie Sanders.

Sanders represents a long standing strain in American political history – Populism.  This political voice often has emerged in times of economic tension, but it has never won a national election. If Sanders wins the nomination it presages a fascinating and critical national debate about our direction as a democracy. No matter who his opponent, the debate will be about the influence of wealth in a democracy.

As is common this early in the season, the polls are jumping around. Some see Hillary in the resurgence. Some put Sanders ahead in Iowa and New Hampshire. Some speculate about the influence of a Biden candidacy as bad for Bernie. But none of them count Sanders out and his ability to raise small donor money suggests that he is in to the end.

A couple of Sanders’ vulnerabilities. First, sometimes Sanders is a Socialist. He seems to being finessing this issue by pointing to Democratic Socialism like the practice in Scandinavia rather than the Soviet Union. Sanders has to develop a rapport with people of color communities. God knows he is trying, but he screwed up at the beginning by framing the whole question in economic terms – everyone gets a job and all is cool.

Black Lives Matter has chased him around making the point that there is a fundamental race issue that needs to be confronted or the economic stuff is irrelevant. People of color seem to resonate with Hillary better than Bernie.

Assuming that Sanders can figure out the Black Lives Matter matter, he will next face another challenge on the foreign policy front. Do you have any idea where Sanders stands on the matter of the balance of power in Eastern Europe, China’s aggression in the South China Sea, the Muddle East? Americans like to think that they are running the place and any sign from the leftish Sanders that we lack total control will be challenged as cowardice, effeminacy, and appeasement.

The wild and crazy guys on the Republican side are suddenly trying to figure out what to do with the wild and crazy gal. The pundits suggest that Carly Fiorina, won the last R Debate. Trump is down Fiorina up.

Carson is backtracking a bit on his contention that a Muslim presidency would be unconstitutional. “If someone has a Muslim background and they’re willing to reject those tenets and to accept the way of life that we have and clearly will swear to place our Constitution above their religion, then, of course. They will be considered infidels and heretics, but at least I would then be quite willing to support them,” Carson told Fox News. There are some who wonder how this might play with the evangelical set – heretics who place the Constitution above their religion may not meet the highest evangelical standards.

Bush looks like a detective who has been asked to solve a locked room mystery in which the victim is inside and all the exits are securely sealed. Jeb is hanging in there though and the bloggers suggest that he continues to build an organizational base in primary states.

Governor Scott Walker, after watching his poll numbers drop down to Lincoln Chaffee’s levels, decided to give it up. He offered what apparently is a Republican Party plan to do in Donald Trump – get all the candidates who are not doing very well to clear out and let the less unsuccessful challenge Trump.  Apparently this idea is designed for the consideration of candidates like Graham, Pataki, Jindal, Gilmore, and Santorum who are barely making a mark on the polls.

If you want to judge how the various candidates are doing based on stuff like money raised, endorsements and polling, the New York Times has prepared a handy guide to power rankings. By this guide Clinton and Bush lead their respective races. Bush is followed by Rubio, Trump, Fiorina and Carson. On the D side, the Biden-the-Undecided is second followed by Sanders, O’Malley and what’s his name from Virginia.

The First Amendment

We have to look out for the wolves in shepherd’s clothing. There is a little something known as the First Amendment Defense Act and is filed as H. R. 2802. The bill purports to be a defense of religious liberty – preventing pastors from having to perform same sex marriages – something that plainly needs no defense.  But its language is so broadly drawn that it would permit discrimination against women who have children out of wedlock and permit religious schools to discriminate against gays and still get federal money. Is this the sort of stuff you want your Congress to be passing?

It is sponsored by Representative Raul Labrador from R-Idaho and has 148 co-sponsors. The only D on the list is Representative Daniel Lipinski from Illinois.

Klepto Corporations

We always knew that this was a possibility, but Volkswagen now has given us a reason to expand the klepto sector to include corporations other than the financial institutions that have led the way in this category. The Volkswagen CEO resigned this week because of the revelation that his company had used a software designed to trick automobile inspections in the U.S. into believing that their diesel engines were meeting emission standards when in fact they were not. Reports in Europe this week suggest that BMW might be caught up in this problem as well.

Is this guy using?

If you needed any proof that the pharmaceutical policies of the country are crazazzie you now have it.  One drug company bought another drug company and acquired the product Daraprim that is used to fight parasitic infections in AIDS and cancer patients. It has been around for decades selling for the hefty price of $13.50 a pill. A fellow called Martin Shkreli, the CEO of the new owner company, announced that they were going to raise the price a mere 4,000 percent plus to $750 a pill. Wow. They can do that? Yep, they can do it and be protected by patent law and prohibitions on the government’s ability to negotiate drug prices.  When questioned about why they were doing this, Shkreli called the asking reporter a “moron.”

The outrage among doctors, patients, press and public was so strong that Shkreli eventuallyannounced that his company would lower the price to a “more affordable” level.  We don’t want to appear moronic, so we quietly ask the question: “What does he regard as more affordable?” Indeed does this fellow have any idea what ”affordable” might mean?

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Yogi Berra died. But if there ever was a pop culture immortal he is it.  Everyone seems to know him for his quirky sayings, but he was a hell of a catcher. He once went through a record 148 games without an error. As a kid I watched on TV as he called pitches in Don Larsen’s perfect World Series game.

Bill Daley, National Legislative Director

 

Price-Gouging AIDS & Cancer Patients? By-Product of a Broken System

Martin Shkreli wants you to swallow his bitter pill — and to thank him for making you pay $750 for it.

For 62 years, the drug Daraprim has been the standard method to treat parasitic infections that are particularly life-threatening to AIDS and cancer patients. It was relatively affordable — though low-income patients might take issue with calling an $18 pill “affordable” — and highly effective in treating these infections.

Then last month, Shkreli and his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, came along and acquired rights to the drug. Their contribution to better the lives of these patients?

Jacking up the price 4,000 percent. Read more

Student Debt: Study Up Before You Sign Up

It’s that time of year again. Students nationwide are heading back to college and signing fresh promissory notes for financial aid. I am one of them. Many of us will mourn the loss of the summer sun while we simultaneously anticipate carving pumpkins and the smell of fallen leaves.

As our quest for knowledge continues and in that vein, I dare to ask, how much student debt do you have and, more importantly, do you understand the parameters in which you agreed to such debt?

As a graduate student, I am skilled in the art of back to school preparation – including ensuring that my financial aid paperwork is signed and ready for disbursement. However, until recently, I didn’t actually know what I had gotten myself into, and what legislation is in place to protect – or harm me. Knowledge is power; the lack of it can be costly.

Doing a little math, I was shocked to learn that the sum I will owe at the conclusion of my graduate studies, roughly $33,000, will accrue additional interest of about $12,000 over the course of the loan. That means for the next decade I will be responsible for a monthly payment of approximately $375, in addition to covering all my other costs of living. That’s about equal to a month of groceries, a monthly car payment, or a health insurance premium. I am certainly not the worst off – and I am not alone.

Even more troubling is the additional cost to me as a woman. The gender pay gap complicates the equity women strive for in choosing to purchase an education. I might be stuck paying off my student loan debt longer than the men sitting next to me in class, due to the lower pay women receive for the same work as men. Women typically earn 79 cents for every dollar a man is paid.

Paying my loan back over a longer period means compounding interest, and a higher total cost.

Several bills in congress have the potential to change the nature of student loans and the student debt crisis. Let your representatives and fellow constituents hear your voice.

One recent notable action by President Barack Obama includes changes to rules regarding financial aid applications. These new rules allow students to apply earlier in an aim to increase Pell grant eligibility, which may decrease the total amount needed for loan borrowers. It’s a small step, but in the right direction.

If I could reach back in time to my former self I would tell her to know the key terms when reading your promissory notes, map out a plan that is best for you, and talk to your congressional representatives about legislation that will work toward solving the student debt crisis. We can make this a better world for students and higher education.

This is my story, share yours at DeclareYourDebt

The Alliance for a Just Society has written a series of reports on the effects of student loan debt which include personal narratives of students who raced to the challenge of higher education and will continue to pay the price tag for years to come.

Daley Weekly: Austerity, Clarity and the Muddled East

Living the Dream

Well, I have been searching Craigslist for the perfect little place to park my camera gear while in Seattle. I just need a place for three months, furnished, with a deck so I can smoke and a kitchen so I can burn the toast while I am out on the deck. Found the perfect place. Got a written and signed lease and ignored the warning not to send money. Idiot. I am on the street again living out of a suitcase, out a couple of grand, and nearly penniless. But I do have health insurance to help cover the cost of my hypertension prescription.

What’s Next?

Everything that the Congress left hanging in the air when they left for their August recess is still hanging in the air. The Transportation Department lessened the emergency around the need for money for the Highway Trust fund by announcing that the fund was going to be just fine well into next year. And the Treasury Department thrust the Debt Lid back on the agenda by announcing that the U.S. borrowing limit would be reached as early as next month. Tea Baggers in Congress who apparently are willing to shut down the government rather than provide funding to Planned Parenthood may get their chance soon.

Refugees

The steady stream of refugees driven into Europe by violent conflicts in Iraq and Syria has become a river. Frightening scenes of the police beating back crowds, terrified children, and folks trapped in train stations are juxtaposed with efforts by other countries to deal with the fleeing masses. The U.S. just agreed to take in 10,000 and France, Germany, and England also are offering accommodation. But Hungary and Macedonia are not so open to all this. Perhaps they are waiting for Donald Trump to make the inevitable candidate visit overseas to establish his foreign policy credentials. While there, perhaps he’ll help the Hungarians design the border fence they are proposing and perhaps even convince the Syrians to pay for building it. (Whoever the Syrians might actually be these days.)

Iran

The Senate Democrats gave the President a major victory when they blocked Republican efforts to stop the nuclear deal with Iraq. They defeated the effort by refusing to give the 60 votes needed to proceed to debate on their measure reversing the deal. Big leadership kudos on this go the Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois who took charge of the effort to prevent a reversal of the agreement when Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada dithered and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the supposed next Democratic Leader, opposed it.

Muddle East

We thought that an essential bit of intelligibility about the situation in the Land of Perpetual Conflict had finally emerged when the U.S. apparently gave the Turks tacit approval to attack the Kurds, the most effective military force against ISIS. Another little bit of clarity came this week when a fellow known as Ayman al-Zawahiri – the post-Osama leader of Al Qaeda – attacked the top leader of ISIS for “sedition” because he had proclaimed himself Caliph. It must be good for us that these two are not joining forces and it certainly reduces the level of confusion.

ACA Enrollments

ACA enrollments reached 9.9 million by mid-year. Eighty-four percent of these were receiving subsidies.

Protecting Our Heritage

When the Heritage Foundation attacked the Obama Administration for incompetence over a cyber security breach at the Office of Personnel Management, they apparently did not realize that someone was hacking into their own web site and stealing personal information about their donors.

Interest Rates

The Federal Reserve seems poised to make some kind of an increase in interest rates, but cannot find the right time to do it. Just when everything looks peachy, China goes in the ditch or Greece decides it’s had enough and tries to rebel against austerity, or the jobs numbers are blah. I’m not sure I care. The stimulus that the Fed has given to the U.S. economy over the last few years has kept us from falling into the austerity trap, in spite of the very best efforts of some in Congress.

Klepto Bankers Beware

The U.S. Justice Department this week announced that it has a new policy – corporate officers will now be held personally culpable for criminal offenses committed by their companies. You will have noted to your chagrin the past practice of fining the company, but letting the criminal behavior of the people who work in the company go without prosecution. This is a critical step forward in efforts to stem the criminal behavior of multi-national financial institutions that have bilked investors and consumers out of billions, laundered trillions of dollars for the drug cartels, and manipulated currencies to bring themselves massive profits. I knew I liked that Etta who took over as Attorney General – at last, my love has come along.

The Boehner Suit

Remember that during one of last year’s interminable budget fights, Speaker John Boehner used the threat of bringing a lawsuit against the Administration over the ACA to quiet some of the dissent in his Caucus. Alas, this week a federal judge ruled that the House of Representatives does have standing to bring this suit. No telling where this might go, but it is yet another threat to subsidies under the ACA. The judge allowed the part of the suit that challenges the right of the Administration to fund the mandatory subsidies without having to get an appropriation directly from the Congress.

Presidential Stuff

The candidate lineup for the next Republican Debate is out and it includes some new faces – Carly Fiorina and Gov. John Kasich are now in, as are Donald Trump, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Interesting to note that Ben Carson has tied Donald Trump in a recent Iowa poll. We thought that that Trump has peaked out at just over 20 percent, but he seems to have reached 37 percent in a South Carolina poll.

Jeb Bush seems completely befuddled by the destruction of his Front Runner status. Befuddlement must be the state of a whole bunch of candidates over there – the plan went off the tracks.

Chris Christie is looking over his shoulder again because three leading executives of United Airlines have resigned as they are facing a criminal investigation centered on David Samson, Christie confidant and the former Chair of the New York, New Jersey Port Authority. The charge is that the airline established a special, money-losing flight route to accommodate Samson’s vacation travels while they were asking for major investments in the Port-operated Newark Airport.

Rick Perry’s second run for President is over. He was running out of money. Given that Perry barely made a dent in the polls, it won’t make much of a difference, big picture.

On the Dem’s side, Martin O’Malley also is cutting staff. Never a positive sign when you are already in a deep hole. No word on staff cuts from what’s his name from Virginia or from Lincoln Chaffee. No real sense that either of them actually have staff to cut. A week or so ago Conan O’Brien, the talk show host, decided to try to move Chaffee from zero to one percent in the polls. So far, Chaffee is still at zero.

Puerto Rico, My Heart’s Devotion

Looks like Puerto Rico may be about to sink back in the ocean – ocean of debt that is. Much like Greece, Puerto Rico is one of the victims of the great fraud induced Recession. Less growth plus fewer tourists equals bankruptcy. The hedge funds that own a whole bunch of Puerto Rican debt are suggesting that while states might be able to default on loans but not so a mere Territory. The hedgers are suggesting that the Puerto Ricans would be much more prosperous if they destroyed their economy by laying off a bunch of teachers, reducing health care benefits and cutting their minimum wage. But, the hedgers tell them, no restructuring of the debt.

This austerity prescription will lead to economic lassitude, just as it has everywhere else. The hedgers will lose their money anyway while imposing even further impoverishment on the Puerto Ricans. What is the point here?

We are waiting for some hedge fund manager to leap before the karaoke mike and inform us in song: “I feel petty, oh so petty.”

Medicaid Expansion

It looks as though Alaska’s Gov. Bill Walker may be going to pull it off. Remember, the legislature dithered around with his request to expand Medicaid so he decided to go ahead and do it anyway.

Naturally he got sued, but a judge just gave his plan the OK.

Schedule

It gives me spinal shudders and nervous twitches, but the Congress has returned and is set to be in D.C. for the next couple of months with the exception of the week of September 21 and the week of October 12.

Bill Daley, National Legislative Director
bill@allianceforajustsociety.org

Remember to follow the Alliance for a Just Society on Facebook

Bill Daley
http://allianceforajustsociety.nationbuilder.com/

Collective Bargaining is a Valuable Tool for Workers to Make Ends Meet

Working full-time should allow workers to make ends meet; instead, many workers across the country continue to be paid wages that leave them living paycheck-to-paycheck. As we’ve shown in our Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series since 1999, a living wage is well above the minimum wage that too many workers are paid.

Our recent report, “Low Wage Nation,” shows that nearly half of new jobs are low-wage jobs. In October, we will release a new installment showing that a living wage across the country is well above the federal minimum wage, and above state minimum wages.

But, the question remains, what needs to be done so that workers are paid a living wage?

One policy recommendation is to increase the minimum wage nationwide, lifting the wage floor for all workers. Another recommendation is to strengthen unions and support collective bargaining efforts by workers, especially in occupations that have not traditionally been unionized or have seen resistance from employers, such as fast food and retail.

The Alliance for a Just Society believes that all jobs should be good jobs, and unions are strong tools for making that a reality.

Union members earn higher wages than non-union members, and the gender wage gap is less for unionized workplaces than it is for those that are not unionized. In addition, though, unions put upward pressure on wages for all workers – even those whose workplaces are not unionized.

Furthermore, collective bargaining can also help lower the cost of living, making it easier for working families to make ends meet. Union efforts have helped workers gain access to affordable health insurance and retirement funds, including pensions.

Benefits like paid sick leave and paid family leave make sure that workers are paid while they care for their own health and when they care for their families.

As worker-led organizing like the Fight for 15 and Our Walmart have shown, workers in fast food and retail face harsh opposition to higher wages, workplace protections, access to health insurance, fair scheduling, and more. It is no surprise that workers in the Fight for 15 movement trying to make ends meet now ask not only for a $15 wage – but for $15 and a union.

Labor Day: “When Unions Are Strong, Everyone is Strong”

For Immediate Release

September 3, 2015
Contact: Kathy Mulady, communications director
kathy@allianceforajustsociety.org
(206) 568-5400 or (206) 992-8787 (cell) 

Celebrate Labor Day: Strong Unions Make a Strong Economy for All

It’s one of our basic values in the United States: If you work full-time and work hard, you should earn enough to support yourself. But we also know that it’s far from reality, when 1 percent of the country is taking home 22 percent of the income.

The Alliance for a Just Society has produced the Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series since 1999, showing how worker pay is steadily falling further behind how much it actually costs to make ends meet.

“The fight for good pay, good health benefits, and paid sick days is an effort none of us can tackle on our own,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society.

“Working together, with labor unions, as organizers, and as members of unions, we can push for economic justice – for all workers,” said Hall.  “We are proud to walk side-by-side with our labor partners.”

Nearly half of all new jobs don’t pay enough to make ends meet, according to our recent report, Low Wage Nation. Women and people of color especially face discrimination and harsh work conditions in workplaces that don’t have unions.

In October, the Alliance will release new research showing that in states nationwide, the living wage that’s needed to make ends meet is much higher than the federal minimum wage, and well above state minimum wages.

Bev DeLeonardis, Alliance Board chair, was a shop steward for Communications Workers of America (CWA) at AT&T. Union members won better pay, sick leave and retirement plans, but also job protection, rights of seniority, and opportunities to continue their education.

“Labor Day is a great time to remember that because of labor unions, workers have a more level playing field and a stronger position when meeting with management,” DeLeonardis said.

“Our standards became the standards at other companies,” she said. “At some point, other businesses would realize they were losing good workers and had to pay them more. It puts more money into the economy. Unions bring up worker benefits – and that benefits society as a whole.

“When unions are strong, everyone is strong,” said DeLeonardis.

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The Alliance for a Just Society is a national policy, research and organizing network with 15 state affiliates. The Alliance focuses on health, racial and economic justice. The Alliance has produced the Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series since 1999.

Healthy School Lunches Lay the Foundation for Better Learning

What’s on your child’s school lunch tray today?

Parents nationwide believe it’s important for schools to serve nutritious food and healthy meals to students.

A new national survey by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation  shows that people in the United States overwhelmingly support current efforts to keep school meals healthy.

The survey results come just as congress is considering whether to renew the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act law enacted in 2010 by President Obama that sets nutrition standards for school meals. The measure expires on Sept. 30.

The legislation requires that meals include at least a half-cup serving of fresh fruit and vegetables. First Lady Michelle Obama made healthy school meals key part of her signature “Let’s Move” campaign.

Among the key findings in the Kellogg Foundation survey:

  • 9 out of 10 people in the U.S. support the national school nutrition standards.
  • 86 percent say the school nutrition standards should stay the same or be strengthened.
  • 88 percent support increased government funding to expand farm to school programs.
  • 84 percent believe sustainable agriculture should be part of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Also, of those surveyed, 91 percent said encouraging children to drink more water is a top priority.

The Kellogg Foundation survey also found that about 90 percent of Americans support more government spending on farm-to-school programs, which bring food from local farms into school cafeterias and teach children about nutrition.

With so much public support for healthy school lunches, it seems reauthorization of the bill would be a natural. But opponents, including the School Nutrition Association, say the healthy lunches are a financial burden for schools because of the cost and preparation time for fresh fruit and vegetables.

Others say food is wasted because children toss out the fresh food.

But the U.S. Department of Agriculture found just the opposite in its research:

“Kids are eating more healthy food and throwing less food away. Plate waste is not increasing. A study released in March 2015 by the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity shows that students are eating more nutritious foods and discarding less of their lunches under the healthier standards.”

In many studies, healthy school lunches have been shown to help students do better in class and develop better eating habits.

According to Lessons from the Lunchroom, for low-income children, school lunch may be their only real meal of the day. Changes to the way healthy foods are presented and marketed in the cafeteria can have significant benefits, and can encourage children to try new foods.

The National School Lunch Program, which was created in 1946 in response to the malnourishment of U.S. children, is supported by taxpayer dollars.

 

Complete results of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation survey are available online at wkkf.org/2015SchoolFoodPoll. The poll is being discussed on social media at #KeepKidsHealthy.