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Mr. PUCINSKI. Well, Miss Kelley, I have heard all sorts of statements back and forth, even right up to the day of these hearings on the basis of your own knowledge of the program and the problem. Are there in your judgment any hungry children in this country, children that are not being reached by this program?
Miss KELLEY. Yes. Clearly we have 20,000 schools that do not at this time have a food service other than perhaps a service of milk. These are the schools to which Mr. Lyng referred—we have had various estimates of perhaps as many between 900,000 to 1.2 million needy children in those schools who are now without a food service.
We regard that as a high priority. We are hoping-with a guarantee of 40 cents without regard to how fast a State expands the program, with our new revisions to concentrate the use of equipment assistance, Federal equipment assistance, on needy no-program schools—that we can make very substantial progress in bringing more of these 20,000 schools into the program.
In some instances, this will mean taking advantage of the new food technology. We have been moving to use engineered foods, to use outside food management companies to bring food into the school, to find better, more effective, cheaper ways of moving food into schools where there is no hope of putting food preparation facilities.
Mr. PUCINSKI. The architect of my own school system told me recently that this is the very problem that he has. There are no funds available for developing these lunch facilities in many of the schools in our area. While we have funds here for equipment, his problem is that they don't have the space.
I saw one of the high schools in my district that literally served a lunch in the gym and they prepare it in a closet. They just have no facilities and it is a pitiful thing.
Now what are we doing to help these schools develop the lunch facilities that they need so that they can serve these meals ?
Mr. Lyng. Mr. Pucinski, we have a graphic example in the city of Chicago in the Archdiocese schools there, many of which were old schools in the older part of town, I understand in the downtown area.
I would like Mr. Hekman, who is close to what was done in that program--this is an example of the kind of cooperative work we have done not only with parochial schools, but in many instances with the public schools, of course.
Ed, could you comment on that?
At the invitation of the parochial school authorities in Chiago, Mr. Chairman, I visited there. Using of Federal funds and local funds, a central kitchen was installed on the near North Side. It is now serving some 14,000 children in the type schools that you have described-old schools, 100 years old, narrow halls, small rooms and all the other problems that go with it.
This has worked out very well. Now they are substantially expanding it. That is the central kitchen approach.
Others have used the so-called satellite approach. The private sector is moving very strongly in this whole field, with the major capital commitments by major companies. They go all the way to the financing of the equipment.
I was privileged recently to study one proposal rather closely. In this city where it was proposed, it would affect some 20,000 students. All of the financing was built into the plans. I was told that, if the goahead decision was made in August, the food could be on the table through this system at a range of 41 to 49 cents per lunch within 4 months. These are examples of two programs, one through a central kitchen; the other, through the private sector.
There are many, many examples that I could give the committee.
Mr. PUCINSKI. Well, you are very kind to give me this information. I have a feeling that we have really torn up your schedule this afternoon, so I think we better get you out of here as fast as possible.
Mr. VEYSEY. Would you yield, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. VEYSEY. I would like to explore a little further the point that Miss Kelley brought forward about new approaches in serving meals. I just received a letter from an assistant school superintendent in my district from Hemet, Calif., who says to me something like this; Yes, there is an awful lot of distribution of food being made. We are getting the food into the system and it is going out there, but that is a different thing than producing nutrition in all the young bodies that we would like to think we are taking care of.
Knowing teenagers and their habits along this line, I suppose it is true that there may be a great deal of food that is not getting where it should be going. He points out or suggests that, he thinks the style in foods has changed and is changing quite rapidly and a lot of young people are just not too well-acquainted with some of the types of food that are placed before them in the system that has been set up in the cafeterias. He is proposing some type of pilot projects which could explore new ways of serving good.
Now you touched on something like that but I don't know whether that is what you were referring to by "other ways," alternative ways of more effectively getting nutrition, that is the name of the game with all these young people rather than simply getting rid of a lot of food.
From all my readings in California it seems to me that the administration here, while it may have had some problems, has done an excellent job of expanding this program and getting to a lot of people. There are still more to cover, I grant you that, and we will always have that problem and have to keep working at it. But I am worried about whether we are delivering nutrition to the young people's bodies as effectively as we think we are when we just get the food out.
Mr. Lyng. Mr. Veysey, this is a subject we have spent a lot of time on. Most recently, the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare and the Secretary of Agriculture have met and talked in terms of collaborating on nutrition research and nutrition education. We do have a number of programs really aimed toward this.
The largest one right now is at Rutgers University where we have a major study underway. We will be getting the results of that before too long-on acceptability of foods, what can you do to encourage people to eat right, the fortification of foods, the new food concepts. We have been talking a good deal with all kinds of food people, food experts, on this. Campbell Soup, General Foods, a number of these people have been meeting before the Senate Select Committee. A lot is going on.
We would be happy to send some information as to what we are doing. You have a very good point, a good question as to whether or not we are really delivering nutrition.
Mr. VEYSEY. Maybe I will send you down that letter and we will answer it.
Mr. Lyng. We will be happy to do so.
Mr. VEYSEY. The pilot programs that you spoke of, are they of the type that would touch the problem that I mentioned here?
Mr. Lyng. Yes.
Mr. HEKMAN. One is on food preferences. It is a study that ties in very closely to what Mr. Lyng just discussed as going on at Rutgers.
Mr. LYNG. We are very concerned that we are spending here $4 billion of the taxpayers' money in an effort to eliminate hunger and malnutrition. Yet we really don't, I believe, have a good monitoring system to tell whether we are getting our money's worth. We are working on that.
Mr. VEYSEY. Good. I hope we can get a monitoring system. I think that would be important.
Mr. HEKMAN. This will be in the report to the Congress the latter part of the year from the advisory committee. It is interesting that discussions this afternoon centered so closely on two of the committee's priorities: One was no-program schools and the second one was exactly equal in their priority ranking, the problem that you just brought up of nutrition education.
Mr. VEYSEY. I think those are the two big problems that we have not handled.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, I certainly want to thank you and your associates for spending the afternoon with us.
I also would like the record to show that your very fine assistant, Mr. Howard Davis, is here. He has always been a friend of all of us on the committee and has been extremely helpful to us on many, many occasions.
Mr. LYNG. He has been helpful to me, too, Mr. Chairman. We just didn't want to overpower the committee, so we kept him in reserve.
Mr. PUCINSKI. I also see Mr. Sam Vaneman from the American School Services Association and I hope that you will be submitting a statement to the committee for the record. Thank you very much.
. The committee will stand adjourned until further notice. Mr. Lyng. Thank you.
(Whereupon, at 3:45 p.m. the subcommittee adjourned, to reconvene at the call of the Chair.)
(The following material was submitted for the record :)
STATEMENT OF HON. JOSHUA EILBERG, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE
STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of this subcommittee, we are concerned, extremely concerned, in Philadelphia, about the effect of the drastic limitation placed on the school lunch program by the Department of Agriculture.
It is certainly no secret that in professing to liberalize payments to states by increasing the federal share of lunch program costs from a proposed level of 35 cents a meal to 45 cents a meal at the request of Congress, the Agriculture Department actually was not liberalizing them at all.
Because at the same time it was graciously raising the federal ante per meal with one hand, it was severely limiting the number of meals with the other. And the device it used, as you are well aware, was restricting eligibility to a scale equivalent to families of four earning less than $3,940 a year.
Gentlemen, that is even less than the level of eligibility for welfare in many states, including Pennsylvania. What the Department of Agriculture is saying to hundreds of thousands of hungry children throughout the country is that even though their parents may be poverty stricken and on welfare, that still does not qualify their children to eat lunch.
And there are hundreds of thousands more whose parents are struggling along just above the welfare level, trying with all the pride they can muster to stay off welfare and still give their children the basic needs of life. They, too, are being told that it is too bad, but there are more important federal priorities than buying a hungry child some lunch.
I would submit that the estimate of Senator McGovern and Representative Perkins that this latest blatant move by the Agriculture Department would deprive a million children of free or reduced price lunches may be extremely conservative.
In Philadelphia right now, there are more than 35,000 youngsters receiving free and reduced price lunches each day, and most of them wouldn't have much more than a slice of bread or a candy bar if it weren't for the Federal school lunch program assistance.
Gentlemen, if these new restrictions stick, at least 25,000 of those children would lose their right to reduced price meals in Philadelphia, with 112,000 getting the same shoddy treatment statewide. That, I contend, would be disastrous to the city and the state.
And the impact becomes doubly serious in Philadelphia, because once the federal wage-price freeze is lifted, regular lunch prices are scheduled to be raised to cut into a $1 million food program deficit incurred by the school district last year. These price increases were planned for the opening of school in September, but were postponed by the freeze. What they will do now, unfortunately, is make it even more impossible for a hungry young child in the ghetto to buy lunch.
It would be nice, of course, if the Philadelphia school system could pick up the tab for the reduced federal funds under the new Department of Agriculture restrictions, but Philadelphia, like most other big city school systems, is broke. They already face a $40 million deficit for the 1971-72 school year, without taking on the Federal duty of feeding hungry kids.
Eligibility levels currently in operation in the Philadelphia public schools provide free lunches for 6,000 children from families earning less than $3,600 a year, and another 29,000 ten cent lunches for children from families in the $3,600 to $6,100 range.
Obviously, enforcing new restrictions of $3,940 literally would decimate the school lunch program in Philadelphia,
I would contend further, gentlemen, that the selection of a level of $3,940 a year as a poverty level is as out of date with the times and the economy of this nation as is the 20-cent hamburger. You can't get a decent hamburger for 20 cents anymore, and you can't raise a family of four on $3,940, either.
Even the state welfare level in Pennsylvania is $4,212 for a family of four and, as I have testified, here the Agriculture Department would be denying reduced price lunches to more than 100,000 Pennsylvania boys and girls whose families already are poor enough to be barely existing on welfare.
The effect of it all, I'm afraid, is that the Department of Agriculture is turning its back on the overwhelming weight of studies across the country and around the world that have documented unquestionably the strong relationship between adequate nutrition and the desire and ability to learn.
There are an estimated ten million hungry people in the United States today, despite all our affluence, and study after study links malnutrition with anemia, brain retardation, and stunted physical growth among children.
And even if the hungry child is lucky enough to escape these kinds of crippling problems, his ability to learn is severely diminished even before he walks into a school.
To quote just one Philadelphia school teacher:
"Kids would come to school without eating. They'd go home for lunch and not be fed. After this non-lunch, they were completely lost, without energy, lethargic, virtually uneducable. Some of them were in so much pain that they were tempted to go to sleep. I was so depressed by the situation that I told the Board I wouldn't teach in a school where the children weren't given lunch."
Gentlemen, I think that one quote ties it all together more eloquently than I ever could. It says that kids can't learn when their bellies hurt. It says that kids in the ghetto have a tough enough time learning without having to fight hunger pains, too. It says that the Nation's teachers recognize only too well what the Department of Agriculture would like to forget.
To what the classroom teacher says, the Philadelphia Inquirer adds in an editorial, and I quote:
“Now, budgetary discipline is all very well, but what about the discipline of an empty stomach? The department looks at the school lunch program and sees dollar signs. Why can't it see hungry children?"
Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask the very same question, and I challenge the Agriculture Department to come up with an answer.
New Mexico DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION,
Santa Fe, October 4, 1971. Congressman ROMAN C. PUCINSKI, Chairman, General Education Subcommittee, House Education and Labor Com
mittee, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. DEAR CONGRESSMAN PUCINSKI: I am writing to indicate my deep concern for the future of the National School Lunch Program. It is my understanding that you will be holding hearings during the week of October 4 in the General Subcommittee on Education on H.J. Resolution 889. I would like to submit the attached information as an indication of the degree of concern and hardship which the present funding will create for the schools of New Mexico.
Thank you very much for your consideration of this very serious threat to the health and well-being of the needy children of our nation. Sincerely yours,
(Mrs.) GRETCHEN Y. PLAGGE, Director, School Food Services Division.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MRS. GRETCHEN Y. PLAGGE, DIRECTOR OF SCHOOL SERVICES,
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, STATE OF NEw MEXICO I am Mrs. Gretchen Y. Plagge, Director of School Food Services, Department of Education, State of New Mexico.
I sent a letter on September 1, 1971, to 22 representative districts of New Mexico asking specific questions of superintendents as to the outlook for the current school year in light of present funding regulations. As of September 10, we received 15 responses. The statistics given here will give an indication of the scope of the problem for the State of New Mexico.
The 15 schools who responded to this request are: Albuquerque, Belen, Bernalillo, Carlsbad, Shiprock, Clovis, Grants, Gallup, Las Cruces, West Las Vegas, Lovington, Penasco, Santa Fe, Socorro and Springer. These 15 districts represent a broad cross section as to size, number of needy children, geographical location, and particiaption in the program. This represents about 12 percent of the total number of participation districts (public and non-public) in New Mexico.