Tag Archives: low-income

School lunches – they should be free for all Worcester Public School students!

By Rosalie Tirella

I used to love scarfing down this exact same meal every Friday afternoon years ago at the old Lamartine Street School in Green Island. The tray even looks the same! Sloppy Joe’s was my second fave meal! Back then, like today, kids got milk, a veggie (most likely canned) and a dessert. The meals helped me and a lot of my Green Island pals to grow (probably a little too) big and strong. The lunch ladies were lovely! One of them – Millie – used to crochet us Lamartine kids little vests. You’d go to her, hold her hand and smile and shyly ask for one of her special vests and a week later, you had one! Pink, green, orange – the colors of  the rainbow dyed into the yarn that Millie used. All us girls wore Millie vests! Millie lived in the hood and she knew what life was like for a lot of us. She was wonderful. I can still picture her: tall and chubby, thick, no-nonsense eye glasses – quiet, sweet voice. We had other lunch ladies – one was as sharp as rusty nails. When she yelled at us kids during lunch recess, we  paid attention. But you could always go over to her and chat. Her bark was worse than her bite.

My mom was too proud to apply for the free lunch, so my sisters and I paid the quarter or whatever it cost back then for our meals. However, we were eligible for the federal program, and my mom certainly could have used the extra dollars to pay bills, etc. We lived so close to the bone!

Here’s where Boston comes in! The Boston Public Schools are part of a pilot program in which ALL BPS students can eat a free lunch every school day  – no questions asked, no cumbersome forms to fill out, no confusion, no shame, no giving out personal info. This would have been great for a family like ours headed by a strong, proud mom like Mrs. Tirella.

We say the Worcester Public Schools should follow Boston’s lead!

All kids in our public schools should be able to drink milk, eat fruit and veggies and yeah, have fun with pizza (cheese and tomato sauce is good for ya!) at no cost. No one should go hungry or feel underfed  in school! No low income or struggling family should feel stigmatized! How can a child learn if his or her stomach is growling? If he or she is weak with hunger?



Schools should embrace free-lunch programs

BOSTON PUBLIC Schools students got some good news about lunchtime last week: The school system has joined an experimental US Department of Agriculture program that provides free lunch for all students — on the federal government’s tab — regardless of whether their families can afford to pay. A high percentage of Boston students already qualify for free or deeply reduced school lunches. But many haven’t taken advantage of the program, perhaps because their parents had trouble navigating the paperwork or felt stigmatized by having to disclose their incomes. The new program joins Boston’s policy of offering universal free breakfast. And it could spare the district the difficulty of chasing hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid lunch bills; currently, schools give kids food even if their parents don’t keep up with their payments. School officials will need to take extra care to make sure crowded lunch lines move quickly and all students have time to eat. But the value of universal lunch is clear: a greater likelihood that kids will be ready to learn. …

To read entire Globe editorial, click here!




Great work, Neighbor to Neighbor!

I have worked with and known the N2N crowd for more than a decade – wonderful ladies (mostly ladies) who work to empower Latino and low-income voters. As we move to celebrate InCity Times’ 12th birthday (our special 12th anniversay issue comes out Friday after next), it is so so cool to be able to run this info from folks who, like us, have been fighting the good fight for Woo’s inner-city folks –  for YEARS! Kudos, N2N!  – R. Tirella
Inadequate regional transit systems take a significant toll on the quality of life of low-income Latinos in our communities
Over the past several months, Neighbor to Neighbor-MA teamed up with Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Planning to conduct door to door surveys, one-on-one interviews, and focus groups to show the effects of transportation in everyday lives. The final report, out this week, shows that inadequate regional transit systems take a significant toll on the quality of life of low-income Latinos in our communities. New data shows just how great that toll is, and provides a plan for how to reduce its effect on the health, employment opportunities, education, stress level, time, and wallets of our neighbors.
Click on the pictures below to read more about how infrequent, expensive, and unreliable transportation impacts daily life in these stories from local and national media. (EVEN IF YOU CAN’T SEE THE PICS, CLICK ON THE BOXES! YOU STILL GET THE INFO! – r. t.)
N2N Worcester leader Terri Cherry
shares her story with
Lynn State Sen. McGee, Chair of the
Joint Committee on Transportation,
talks about the need for
transportation reform.
N2N Springfield leader Ana Sanoguel
The Dukakis Center’s
explains the facts and figures
of the report.
Find more from our members at WBUR, Boston Magazine … . You can read the report here.
This report is an unprecedented collaboration between N2N-MA and the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, with major support from the Barr Foundation and supporters like you.
By combining hard data and personal stories, this report makes an even stronger case for economic justice.
Your support is crucial in this ongoing fight!

Five things you won’t hear Scott Brown say (i.e. the truth) about his tax record

By Jason A. Stephany, MassUniting

At a noon press conference in Randolph on Tuesday, US Senator Scott Brown delivered what his office claimed would be a “major policy speech” on taxes. To the surprise of few in Massachusetts, Brown’s remarks turned out to be nothing more than the stereotypical, failed tax rhetoric of his Republican colleagues in Washington. More telling were the facts Brown failed to mention about his voting record on taxes. Here are five true statements we didn’t hear from the junior senator in Randolph:

1. “I voted to give tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas.”

Scott Brown voted to filibuster the Creating American Jobs & Ending Offshoring Act, a bill would have ended tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs or build plants and offices offshore to replace American facilities. The vote came as thousands of American workers face impending layoffs while training their replacements from China, India, and elsewhere. (US Senate roll call vote #242, 9/28/10)


2. “I gave $24 billion of your tax dollars to Big Oil.”

In the face of drastic budget cuts, Scott Brown voted three times to give more than $24 billion in taxpayer funds to the oil industry over the next decade. The top five Big Oil companies – BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell – are amongst the most profitable corporations in the world, posting $137 billion in profits in 2011 alone. (US Senate roll call votes #187 6/15/10; #72, 5/17/11; #63, 3/29/12)


3. “I’d really like to take more money out of your paycheck.”

Scott Brown voted to filibuster legislation to extend the payroll tax cut for working families – holding low and middle income workers hostage to shield the wealthiest Americans from a small surtax on income over $1 million. In effect, Brown cast a deciding vote to raise taxes on 113 million working families. In Massachusetts, the surtax would have affected just 0.6% of taxpayers with an average income of more than $2 million. (US Senate roll call vote #219, 12/1/11)

4. “I support tax breaks for millionaires…just not middle class or low-income families.”

Three times in 2010 and again in 2012, Scott Brown voted to kill measures that would extend tax cuts for the middle class. Like his vote for payroll tax hikes, Brown used the same rationale to justify his votes to raise taxes on middle and low-income families: those making $250,000 to $1 million or more each year shouldn’t have to pay their fair share like the rest of his Massachusetts constituents. (US Senate roll call votes #258 & #259, 12/4/10; #275, 12/15/10; #184, 7/25/12)


5. “I filibustered tax credits and loans that help small businesses grow and create jobs.”

Despite his claims of supporting job creators, Scott Brown repeatedly filibustered and opposed major legislation that helps small businesses grown and create jobs. Brown twice voted to filibuster the Small Business Jobs & Credit Act – a bill that connected growing small businesses to credit through community banks and offered significant tax credits to small firms that create American jobs. When his filibuster failed, Brown voted again to kill the legislation. The Massachusetts Bankers Association stated that failure to act on the bill “would be a missed opportunity that our struggling economy cannot afford.” (US Senate roll call votes #218 & #221, 7/29/10; #237, 9/14/10)


Per usual, Senator Brown took no questions from constituents or reporters, ducking out a back door immediately following his speech. But anyone who takes issue with Brown’s out-of-step voting record on taxes – or any other issue, for that matter – may contact his office at (617) 565-3170.


Massachusetts Poverty Law Organization Urges Congress to Protect Federal Nutrition Programs during Deficit Negotiations

Boston – One in 9 households in Massachusetts struggled with hunger on average in the years 2008-2010, according to new data released this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in its annual report on food insecurity. Nationally, more than 48.8 million people lived in households that were food insecure in 2010.

The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) pointed out that there has been a been a 35 percent increase in hunger in Massachusetts during the three years covering the heart of the recession compared to the three previous years. The increase demonstrates the downturn’s depth and impact on Massachusetts.

Among the 10.8 percent of households in Massachusetts considered to be food insecure during the 2008-2010 period, 4.5 percent were considered to have “very low food security.” People in this USDA category had more severe problems, experiencing deeper hunger and cutting back or skipping meals on a more frequent basis for both adults and children.

“We continue to see evidence of the struggles facing too many people in the Commonwealth. Congress must protect the federal nutrition programs and other parts of our nation’s safety net against deficit cutting measures,” said Patricia Baker, Senior Policy Analyst at MLRI. “Weakening these programs would cause irreparable harm to low-income people in Massachusetts and across the nation.”

The Massachusetts SNAP caseload has doubled since July of 2008, now serving over 450,000 households (representing over 833,000 individuals as of July 2011) – the majority of whom are low-income elders, persons with disabilities disabled and families with children. Food pantries and soup kitchens report significant growth in persons seeking emergency food, unable to make ends meet.

“Millions of Americans, including many in Massachusetts, continue to struggle to put food on the table. It is time to strengthen, not weaken the nation’s safety net,” said Ms. Baker. “There’s a reason that every bipartisan deficit reduction plan proposed over the past year – including those from Simpson-Bowles Commission and the Gang of Six – has made sure to keep nutrition programs intact and protected from cuts–and that’s because these programs are critical to the health and well-being of America’s children and families.”