Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

02/17/2010 08:00 AM Senate EDUCATION

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08:04:00 AM Start
08:04:35 AM SB213
09:14:23 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
                SB 213-FUNDING FOR SCHOOL MEALS                                                                             
8:04:35 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR THOMAS announced consideration of SB 213.                                                                              
CO-CHAIR MEYER  moved to adopt the  proposed committee substitute                                                               
(CS) to SB  213, labeled 26-LS1301\E, as the  working document of                                                               
the committee.  There being  no objection,  version E  was before                                                               
the committee.                                                                                                                  
8:05:47 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  thanked  the Alaska  Food  Coalition,  the                                                               
Alaska School Nutrition Association, and  the Food Bank of Alaska                                                               
for asking  him to sponsor  this legislation and  working closely                                                               
with him on it. He said this  bill will provide a state match for                                                               
schools  participating  in  the federal  free  and  reduced-price                                                               
school breakfast  and lunch programs  in order to  encourage more                                                               
schools   to  provide   nutritious  meals   for  under-privileged                                                               
children and  allow schools that  already do so to  improve their                                                               
programs.  Under CSSB  213, he  said,  the state  will provide  a                                                               
match  of $.35  for every  free and  reduced-price breakfast  and                                                               
$.15 for every  free and reduced-price lunch  the federal program                                                               
funds. He  noted that Alaska is  one of the few  states that does                                                               
not provide some sort of state contribution.                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI continued to  say most school districts will                                                               
receive  some additional  assistance  through  a funding  formula                                                               
based  on the  applicable school  district cost  factor for  each                                                               
district.  Numerous   studies  have  documented  the   fact  that                                                               
eliminating  hunger  in  children  improves  school  performance,                                                               
increases  school  attendance,  decreases  school  violence,  and                                                               
helps  to combat  obesity. Dealing  with these  problems now,  he                                                               
said, will help prevent problems that  will prove to be much more                                                               
costly to society in the future.                                                                                                
8:08:03 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR OLSON joined the meeting.                                                                                               
8:08:16 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS asked  what the  $.25 [$.35]  and the  $.15 will                                                               
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said  it will be contributed  to the schools                                                               
to enable  schools that currently  provide meals to  increase the                                                               
number of meals  they provide or increase the  number of students                                                               
they  serve,  and  will  enable   certain  districts  that  don't                                                               
currently  provide  meals  to  get  federal  funds  for  a  meals                                                               
SENATOR HUGGINS asked  Senator Wielechowski if this  is a federal                                                               
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI turned  the question  over to  his staffer,                                                               
George Ascott.                                                                                                                  
GEORGE ASCOTT, staff to Senator  Wielechowski, explained that the                                                               
federal government reimburses school  districts that provide free                                                               
or  reduced-price meals,  and  the state  will  simply match  any                                                               
reimbursement  requests   that  are  submitted  to   the  federal                                                               
SENATOR  HUGGINS asked  if  he  is correct  that  this will  just                                                               
subsidize the current programs.                                                                                                 
MR.  ASCOTT said  yes, the  school districts  will decide  how to                                                               
spend the money.                                                                                                                
8:10:00 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MEYER commented that Senator  Wielechowski told him some                                                               
districts are  actually using  money that was  intended to  go to                                                               
the classrooms to  pay for school meals. He asked  the sponsor to                                                               
clarify how the state matching funds will be used.                                                                              
8:10:41 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. ASCOTT said  he believes all school districts  make their own                                                               
decisions as to  how they will supplement the  food programs, but                                                               
all of the  districts that have food programs  do supplement them                                                               
in some way.                                                                                                                    
8:11:26 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DAVIS  opined that what  the sponsor is really  trying to                                                               
do with  this bill  is to  make sure  the districts  that provide                                                               
breakfast and lunch don't have to dip into other funds to do it.                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI confirmed that is correct.                                                                                 
8:12:02 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR OLSON  asked if  the bill has  widespread support  in the                                                               
schools among  the employees who  actually have to  operate these                                                               
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  said he  has not  heard any  complaints. He                                                               
did receive  a couple  of emails from  people who  were concerned                                                               
about  increasing costs,  but the  vast majority  of people  have                                                               
been very supportive.                                                                                                           
8:13:01 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR OLSON  asked if  studies exist  to support  the assertion                                                               
that  school  meals  improve  performance,  increase  attendance,                                                               
decrease school violence, and decrease child obesity.                                                                           
MR. ASCOTT said abstracts of  numerous studies have been included                                                               
in the committee members' hearing packets.                                                                                      
8:13:34 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MEYER asked  how children qualify for  free and reduced-                                                               
price meals.                                                                                                                    
8:14:11 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. ASCOTT  said he  believes that each  school district  has its                                                               
own application process. He was not sure of the details.                                                                        
8:14:45 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said children who  fall below 130 percent of                                                               
the federal  poverty level (FPL)  qualify for the  free breakfast                                                               
and lunch  programs; children at  between 130 and 185  percent of                                                               
the FPL qualify for reduced-price meals.                                                                                        
8:15:13 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS commented  that if  70 percent  [75 percent]  of                                                               
students at  a school  qualify for  free or  reduced-price meals,                                                               
the school  can be  classified under Title  I to  receive special                                                               
funding. He asked  if the $50 million  additional funding already                                                               
being provided to  schools this year in the  funding formula will                                                               
cover some of the program costs without burdening the schools.                                                                  
8:16:38 AM                                                                                                                    
EDDY JEANS,  Director, Division of School  Finance, Department of                                                               
Education  and  Early  Development, Juneau,  Alaska,  said  every                                                               
school  that offers  a program  runs  at a  deficit. Schools  are                                                               
currently  paying the  deficit by  transferring money  from their                                                               
operating  fund;  districts  transferred $9.1  million  for  that                                                               
purpose  in 2008.  The amount  varies from  district to  district                                                               
depending upon  whether they  offer free  meals or  just reduced-                                                               
price  meals, and  whether they  offer a  combined breakfast  and                                                               
lunch program, just breakfast, or just lunch.                                                                                   
He  said  this piece  of  legislation  puts  the program  in  the                                                               
foundation program,  and he  does not think  that is  the correct                                                               
place for  it. He  offered to work  with Senator  Wielechowski to                                                               
identify what section of statute would be more appropriate.                                                                     
8:18:48 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  OLSON asked  if private  schools would  be eligible  for                                                               
this type of match.                                                                                                             
MR.  JEANS   answered  this   bill  addresses   school  districts                                                               
SENATOR OLSON asked  if private schools are  eligible for federal                                                               
funds for meals.                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS said he believes so.                                                                                                  
SENATOR OLSON asked again if  this legislation is only for public                                                               
MR. JEANS answered yes.                                                                                                         
8:19:37 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR   MEYER  asked   if  it   is  safe   to  say   that  the                                                               
administration supports this bill.                                                                                              
MR.  JEANS said  he did  not have  clearance from  the governor's                                                               
office to say the administration supports the bill.                                                                             
CO-CHAIR  MEYER   followed  up   on  Senator   Huggins'  question                                                               
regarding  the additional  money  coming to  schools through  the                                                               
foundation formula. He  asked whether some of the  costs of meals                                                               
will  be  taken care  of  by  the  increase  in funding,  so  the                                                               
proposed state  matching funds can  free up  money to use  in the                                                               
MR. JEANS  said school districts  believe the money the  state is                                                               
giving  them  through  the  foundation  program  should  stay  in                                                               
instruction.  Districts are  currently transferring  $9.1 million                                                               
out  of  what  they  would call  their  instructional  budget  to                                                               
support the  food service budget, and  this bill would free  up a                                                               
portion of that money.                                                                                                          
8:20:58 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MEYER asked for details on the application process.                                                                    
MR. JEANS said he thinks families  have to apply once a year, but                                                               
will have to get back to the committee on that.                                                                                 
8:21:20 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  asked if  there is  a way for  kids who  are not                                                               
from  low-income families  to buy  a breakfast  or lunch;  he was                                                               
concerned about the  social stigma that might attach  to kids who                                                               
participate in a program for low-income students only.                                                                          
8:22:12 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  JEANS said  provisions in  the Child  Nutrition Law  require                                                               
schools to mask  those children who are eligible for  the free or                                                               
reduced-price meals,  and many districts that  offer breakfast or                                                               
lunch  programs  do accommodate  students  who  want to  purchase                                                               
8:23:03 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS said  he thinks  it  would be  valuable to  know                                                               
about the  federal programs  as they apply  to Title  I nutrition                                                               
MR.  JEANS said  Title  I  schools are  identified  based on  the                                                               
percentage of the student population  that is low-income. He said                                                               
that is what drives eligibility under this program as well.                                                                     
SENATOR  HUGGINS   noted  that   some  schools  have   a  working                                                               
relationship  with local  charitable organizations  to help  them                                                               
provide  food for  underprivileged students,  and encouraged  the                                                               
legislature  to   look  at   ways  to   leverage  that   type  of                                                               
cooperation.  He  also questioned  how  much  the additional  $50                                                               
million  in  foundation  funding  will impact  the  current  $9.1                                                               
million deficit for school meals programs.                                                                                      
MR.  JEANS said  he understands  Senator Huggins'  question about                                                               
the additional  funds through the foundation  program, but school                                                               
districts will argue  that the money is  intended for instruction                                                               
and not to cover deficits in a federal lunch program.                                                                           
8:25:49 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR THOMAS asked how this money will be tracked.                                                                           
MR. JEANS  replied tracking is one  reason he would like  to work                                                               
with the  bill sponsor  to identify the  proper place  in statute                                                               
for  this  program.  As  additional  state  funding  through  the                                                               
foundation program  the funds would  be very hard to  track; Food                                                               
service  Programs are  a  special revenue  fund  and are  tracked                                                               
separately from the general operating fund.                                                                                     
He stressed  that the  bill as  written will  not cover  the full                                                               
deficit; districts  will still have  to transfer some  money from                                                               
the school operating fund.                                                                                                      
8:27:11 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR OLSON  referred to a  paragraph in the  sponsor statement                                                               
which reads "To  compensate for higher costs,  rural schools will                                                               
receive additional assistance through  a funding formula based on                                                               
the applicable  School District Cost  Factor for  each district."                                                               
He asked  if that means a  proportionate amount of money  will go                                                               
to rural schools,  so they will not be penalized  for their lower                                                               
MR.  JEANS  explained  the geographic  differential  is  a  small                                                               
adjustment  factor intended  to help  the rural  districts offset                                                               
additional cost such as transportation of goods.                                                                                
SENATOR  OLSON  asked  if  rural   schools  will  still  have  to                                                               
subsidize a larger percentage than the larger schools will.                                                                     
MR. JEANS said he would have  to do a little more analysis before                                                               
he could substantiate that statement.                                                                                           
8:28:31 AM                                                                                                                    
AMY  ROUSE, Director  Division of  Nutrition Services,  Fairbanks                                                               
North  Star Borough  School  District and  member  of the  Alaska                                                               
School  Nutrition Association,  Fairbanks,  Alaska, supported  SB
213.  She  said  thirty  percent of  their  students  qualify  to                                                               
receive  their meals  at the  free or  reduced rate;  on average,                                                               
they  serve 1500  breakfasts and  5000  lunches per  day. In  the                                                               
month of January,  they served over 27,000  breakfasts and 92,000                                                               
lunches. Twenty  eight percent of  the breakfasts and  66 percent                                                               
of the lunches  were served to students who  qualified to receive                                                               
meals at the free or reduced rate.                                                                                              
MS. ROUSE  said school meals are  nutritionally well-balanced and                                                               
provide students with  a wide variety of fresh  produce and whole                                                               
grain  items,  which is  extremely  important  to families  in  a                                                               
variety  of  households  such as  food-poor,  military,  migrant,                                                               
those who  are struggling  to make ends  meet, the  homeless, and                                                               
children in transition.                                                                                                         
She  said many  school  districts expect  the Nutrition  Services                                                               
Department  to generate  enough  revenue to  cover expenses,  but                                                               
that has become increasingly difficult;  the Fairbanks North Star                                                               
School  District estimates  they will  have a  $300,000 shortfall                                                               
this  year, and  the amount  of money  available through  federal                                                               
reimbursement and  from the price  of paid school meals  does not                                                               
cover  the food,  non-food  supplies,  transportation, and  labor                                                               
associated with  producing them. The  state matching funds  in SB
213  will help  them  continue  to provide  the  meals that  many                                                               
children have come to expect.                                                                                                   
8:31:30 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEVENS  asked  if  Ms.  Rouse said  one  third  of  the                                                               
students pay  their own way, and  two thirds qualify for  free or                                                               
reduced-price meals.                                                                                                            
MS. ROUSE responded two thirds of  students pay their own way and                                                               
one third do not.                                                                                                               
SENATOR STEVENS asked how much students pay for lunch.                                                                          
MS. ROUSE  said students who  don't qualify for free  or reduced-                                                               
price meal  benefits pay  $3 for lunch  at the  elementary school                                                               
and $3.25 at the secondary school.                                                                                              
8:32:37 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS said  the military pays Federal  Impact Aid Funds                                                               
to the  school districts and asked  if there is a  food component                                                               
to that.                                                                                                                        
MS. ROUSE answered no.                                                                                                          
SENATOR HUGGINS  asked if  she knows the  amount of  those impact                                                               
MS. ROUSE did not know.                                                                                                         
8:33:11 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS  mentioned that another unique  funding source is                                                               
federal  funding  for  migrant   labor,  which  applies  to  some                                                               
categories of  fisherman; he asked  if that provides much  to the                                                               
school districts.                                                                                                               
MS. ROUSE did not know.                                                                                                         
8:33:42 AM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL  SOBOCINSKI, Psychologist,  and  member of  the board  of                                                               
directors  for the  Food  Bank of  Alaska,  Eagle River,  Alaska,                                                               
supported SB  213. He spoke  to the committee about  children and                                                               
the complexity  of issues they  face educationally,  socially and                                                               
emotionally. He said studies have  shown the benefit of nutrition                                                               
to  children's  success  in  school, and  he  has  observed  this                                                               
personally over the years.                                                                                                      
8:35:45 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  asked Mr. Sobocinski if  his experience supports                                                               
the link between nutrition and a reduction in violence.                                                                         
MR. SOBOCINSKI said he is familiar  with the research and can say                                                               
anecdotally  that behavior  does  improve when  children are  not                                                               
SENATOR HUGGINS referred  to child obesity and  asserted that, if                                                               
the  state is  going  to  direct money  to  the  task of  feeding                                                               
children, it should  have more control over the  quality of their                                                               
diet. He asked for Mr. Sobocinski's recommendations.                                                                            
MR.  SOBOCINSKI  answered  the  quality of  the  foods  that  are                                                               
offered makes a big difference.                                                                                                 
8:37:56 AM                                                                                                                    
BRENT  ROCK,   Director,  Student  Nutrition,   Anchorage  School                                                               
District,  Anchorage, Alaska,  said  he has  noticed a  concerted                                                               
effort  to  improve the  student  nutrition  programs around  the                                                               
state, and the Anchorage School  District has followed suit. They                                                               
worked with the  community three years ago to  develop a wellness                                                               
policy and discovered that, because  people in low socio-economic                                                               
areas  could not  afford the  healthier foods,  they were  buying                                                               
items  high in  fats and  sugar. The  district wanted  to reverse                                                               
that  trend by  example and  by  providing healthy  foods in  the                                                               
schools. At the  same time the district  implemented the wellness                                                               
policy,  which   meant  putting  more  money   into  the  student                                                               
nutrition  program, the  economic  downturn forced  the costs  of                                                               
food and labor  up even higher. They had previously  been able to                                                               
break  even on  the  costs  of running  their  program, but  that                                                               
changed. For the  first time in about 15 years,  the school board                                                               
had to  transfer about  $1.12 million to  help offset  the higher                                                               
MR.  ROCK stated  the  percentage of  students  in the  Anchorage                                                               
School District who  qualify for free or  reduced-price meals has                                                               
increased over  the past two  or three  years from 25  percent to                                                               
about 38 percent of 50,000  students, and the amount they receive                                                               
in reimbursement from the federal  government does not come close                                                               
to covering  those meals. Currently,  he said, they do  not break                                                               
even on any of their meal programs.                                                                                             
He said  a good breakfast makes  a big difference in  how kids do                                                               
in  school. A  study  done in  1995 with  a  large population  of                                                               
students  showed  definitively  that  students  who  eat  a  good                                                               
breakfast are  more alert, perform better  academically, are less                                                               
likely to  have to  go to  the nurse,  and have  fewer discipline                                                               
problems in school. A more recent study upheld these findings.                                                                  
8:43:19 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. ROCK  said their average cost  to produce a lunch  is between                                                               
$3.95 and $4.18  and they get $3.95 from  the federal government;                                                               
the high  volume of meals  they provide  is the only  reason they                                                               
come close to breaking even. He  ended by saying they really want                                                               
to  provide more  fresh fruits  and  vegetables, but  if they  do                                                               
that,  it  will cost  even  more  per  pupil  than they  are  now                                                               
8:44:39 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS asked  if the district buys any  of their produce                                                               
MR. ROCK said they try to buy  from farmers in the Mat Valley but                                                               
are bound by  state and federal laws to buy  at the lowest price,                                                               
which generally prevents  them from giving a  preference to local                                                               
SENATOR HUGGINS asked what is on the menu today.                                                                                
MR. ROCK  did not  know, but said  the menu can  be found  on the                                                               
8:46:17 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  MEYER asked  how often  people have  to go  through the                                                               
application process.                                                                                                            
MR.  ROCK   replied  most  people   apply  annually,   but  those                                                               
individuals who  qualify under direct  certification do  not have                                                               
to  apply.  Qualified  individuals   include  persons  on  public                                                               
assistance  or   food  stamps,  migrant  workers,   and  homeless                                                               
persons. He  added that the  district has seen a  tremendous rise                                                               
in  their  homeless population,  which  is  up to  3000  students                                                               
including pre-schoolers.                                                                                                        
CO-CHAIR MEYER asked if the breakfast program is more selective.                                                                
MR.  ROCK said  they  lose  more money  on  breakfast than  lunch                                                               
because of the cost of producing it  and the fact that they get a                                                               
smaller  federal  reimbursement  for   it.  The  maximum  federal                                                               
reimbursement for a breakfast program  for a severe-needs student                                                               
is about $2.85, and very few  of their schools qualify for severe                                                               
need.  He  said  eleven  of their  schools  qualify  for  Special                                                               
Assistance (Provision 2 or 3), so the whole school eats free.                                                                   
CO-CHAIR MEYER  clarified that he  wanted to  know if all  of the                                                               
students who qualify to eat breakfast at school do so.                                                                          
MR.  ROCK  said  a  low   percentage  of  them  actually  do  eat                                                               
CO-CHAIR  MEYER asked  if some  stigma attaches  to kids  who get                                                               
MR.  ROCK said  he  does not  think so,  because  they also  have                                                               
students who buy  breakfast. The issue is whether  the busses can                                                               
get kids to school in time to  eat, and they are working with the                                                               
superintendant of  schools and  the transportation  department to                                                               
make  that  possible. He  said  one  school  allows kids  to  eat                                                               
breakfast in the classroom to ensure they are fed.                                                                              
CO-CHAIR MEYER asked what happens to these kids in the summer.                                                                  
8:49:39 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. ROCK  said they have  a summer feeding program.  They provide                                                               
meals not  only at  the summer schools,  but at  different venues                                                               
around Anchorage and even take a  truck to the Lions Park to feed                                                               
the kids.                                                                                                                       
8:50:01 AM                                                                                                                    
SUSANNAH  MORGAN,  Executive  Director,   Food  Bank  of  Alaska,                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska,  said the Food  Bank of Alaska and  the Alaska                                                               
Food Coalition  recently conducted  the 2010 hunger  study, which                                                               
is  part  of   a  national  study  recognized   by  the  Heritage                                                               
Foundation. They  found that 74,000  individual Alaskans  ask for                                                               
food assistance at  a food pantry, soup kitchen  or shelter every                                                               
year; of those,  42 percent have children under the  age of 18 in                                                               
the household.                                                                                                                  
MS. MORGAN  said the  Food Bank  of Alaska  and its  300 partners                                                               
around the  state do  their best  to get  food assistance  to the                                                               
families  who  need it,  but  they  estimate  that they  need  to                                                               
distribute  13 million  pounds of  food  each year  and are  only                                                               
distributing 6 million pounds. They  need help, she said, and one                                                               
of the  best ways  to make  sure kids  aren't going  hungry while                                                               
they struggle to find that other  7 million pounds of food, is to                                                               
see  that kids  have every  opportunity to  get meals  at school.                                                               
When the food  bank realized 25 percent, or over  100 of Alaska's                                                               
schools, do not offer a school  breakfast program, they saw it as                                                               
a   major  opportunity   to  feed   the   kids,  improve   school                                                               
performance, decrease  discipline problems, and  decrease obesity                                                               
all at  the same time. She  said nearly every state  in the union                                                               
offers  some   kind  of  support   for  school   breakfasts,  but                                                               
acknowledged  that it  is not  just a  state responsibility.  She                                                               
gave  the committee  her assurance  that  the food  bank and  its                                                               
partners will  be there to advocate  for increased reimbursements                                                               
from the  federal level when the  Child Nutrition Reauthorization                                                               
Act comes before Congress this year.                                                                                            
She said studies show when kids  eat breakfast at school they are                                                               
less  likely to  suffer from  obesity,  even if  they have  eaten                                                               
breakfast  at home.  She  explained that  the  foods provided  at                                                               
school are generally  healthier and are eaten earlier  in the day                                                               
so they have a chance to  metabolize, which means they are likely                                                               
to replace  unhealthy foods a child  might eat later in  the day.                                                               
She  said one  of  the best  things  the state  can  do to  fight                                                               
obesity and hunger is to provide kids with a good breakfast.                                                                    
MS.  MORGAN disclosed  that  Alaska ranks  49th  among states  in                                                               
providing summer meals  for children; for every 100  kids who get                                                               
lunch at school during the school  year, only 7 get a meal during                                                               
the summer. She  said the Food Bank of Alaska  is working hard on                                                               
that and sponsored 32 summer food sites last year.                                                                              
8:54:25 AM                                                                                                                    
PENNY  VADLA, member,  Kenai  Peninsula  Borough School  District                                                               
(KPBSD),  Soldotna,  Alaska,  supported  SB  213  and  urged  the                                                               
legislature  to support  funding for  school meals.  She said  40                                                               
percent of  the Kenai Borough School  District's families qualify                                                               
for free and  reduced meals, and for some students  these are the                                                               
only nutritious meals  they eat each day. She  felt strongly that                                                               
money   from  the   foundation   formula  should   be  used   for                                                               
instructional  purposes as  intended, and  pointed out  that this                                                               
bill would  reimburse the district approximately  $110,000 of the                                                               
$300,000 it  expects to transfer  from its general funds  to food                                                               
services this year.                                                                                                             
She closed  by saying that it  is imperative that SB  213 pass to                                                               
ensure that no child is left hungry.                                                                                            
8:57:26 AM                                                                                                                    
DEAN  HAMBURG, Director,  School meal  programs, Kenai  Peninsula                                                               
Borough School  District, Soldotna, Alaska, supported  SB 213. He                                                               
said  while the  United States  Department of  Agriculture (USDA)                                                               
provides  as  much as  $34  million  per  year to  feed  Alaska's                                                               
children, it is not enough to  prevent schools from having to use                                                               
classroom funds for  meal programs. He emphasized  the Kenai will                                                               
provide over 900,000  school meals to hungry  students this year,                                                               
and the average of $3.90 per  meal in both reimbursement and cash                                                               
is  simply not  enough. Hunger  is real  for Alaska  students, he                                                               
said,  two  in  five  students  in Alaska  qualify  for  free  or                                                               
reduced-price  meals,  and  their 200  homeless  students  depend                                                               
almost solely on those meals.                                                                                                   
MR. HAMBURG pointed  out the application process  is monitored by                                                               
USDA,  and reimbursements  through Child  Nutrition Services  are                                                               
also  monitored  carefully,  so   every  dollar  goes  to  school                                                               
nutrition programs.  He said, although  it would be  wonderful to                                                               
think the  volunteer agencies and  other entities could  fill the                                                               
gap, those well-intending  groups cannot meet the  need of almost                                                               
10 million school meals a year.                                                                                                 
The Federal  government has been  doing all the heavy  lifting to                                                               
feed Alaska's children, he chided, and  it is really time for the                                                               
state to take  some responsibility for helping  to provide school                                                               
9:01:14 AM                                                                                                                    
EDDIE  EZELLE,  Executive  Director,   Food  Pantry  of  Wasilla,                                                               
Wasilla,  Alaska, urged  the legislature  to support  SB 213.  He                                                               
said  the Food  Pantry served  3570 clients  in January  and 1800                                                               
during the  first half  of February,  at approximately  1.5 meals                                                               
per  client. He  challenged the  Senators to  try skipping  lunch                                                               
today and  see if they  are able to  concentrate on the  tasks at                                                               
9:02:55 AM                                                                                                                    
ALEX  ANNA  SALMON,   President,  Acting  Administrator,  Igiugig                                                               
Village  Council, Igiugig,  Alaska, said  her village  council is                                                               
one of the  82 active organizations of the  Alaska Food Coalition                                                               
and supports  SB 213. She  said she is  the foster mother  of two                                                               
girls, both  of whom  suffered food  insecurity before  coming to                                                               
live with  her, and between raising  the girls and working  as an                                                               
assistant at  the school,  she has seen  the direct  link between                                                               
improved nutrition  and the  quality of  education. She  said she                                                               
was in school  when they implemented the first  lunch program and                                                               
knows first-hand what  a difference it makes.  She expressed hope                                                               
that  the additional  money will  make  it possible  for them  to                                                               
start a breakfast program as well.                                                                                              
9:05:44 AM                                                                                                                    
JORDIS  CLARK,  School  Nurse,  Anchorage  School  District,  and                                                               
Secretary for the Board of Directors  of the Food Bank of Alaska,                                                               
supported  SB 213.  She  said  she holds  an  advanced degree  in                                                               
public  health  and  collected   data  for  the  Wellness  Policy                                                               
Committee hunger study that Susannah  Morgan mentioned. In answer                                                               
to Senator  Huggins' question  about today's  menu, she  said the                                                               
elementary schools  are offering  whole-grain Belgian  waffles or                                                               
cereal, unsweetened applesauce,  and a half pint  of nonfat milk.                                                               
She  also responded  to Senator  Meyer's  concern about  children                                                               
being identified as  recipients of free or  reduced meals, saying                                                               
the  data  is  so  carefully   guarded  that  even  the  employee                                                               
responsible for preparing and serving those meals does not know.                                                                
9:09:20 AM                                                                                                                    
J. PATRICK  LUBY, Advocacy Director,  AARP, Alaska  State Office,                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska,  said AARP may  seem to  be the odd  fellow at                                                               
the  table, but  their  members are  grandparents,  and they  are                                                               
concerned  about  their  grandchildren. Over  8000  children  are                                                               
being raised  by over 5400  grandparents in Alaska, he  said, and                                                               
11.5 percent  of them  live below the  federal poverty  level. He                                                               
said these  people are living on  the edge and need  all the help                                                               
the state can give them;  providing breakfast and lunch for their                                                               
grandchildren at school  will help the students  succeed and help                                                               
the  grandparents continue  to  raise these  kids.  He urged  the                                                               
legislature to support SB 213.                                                                                                  
9:10:38 AM                                                                                                                    
HEATHER  HARRIS,  BHS,  Program  Manager, The  Alaska  Youth  and                                                               
Parent Foundation  (AYPF), and incoming  President of  The Alaska                                                               
Food Coalition,  supported SB 213.  At AYPF, she said,  she works                                                               
with  at-risk and  homeless  youth through  their  office at  the                                                               
downtown  transit center  where they  provide snacks  and drinks,                                                               
but not a complete meal.  After visiting their center and raiding                                                               
the refrigerator, clients have often  said that was the only food                                                               
they had eaten all day. The  2010 hunger study done by the Alaska                                                               
Food  Coalition and  the Food  Bank  of Alaska  revealed that  40                                                               
percent  of families  with  children younger  than  18 years  old                                                               
skipped meals in the last year,  because they did not have enough                                                               
money for food. She said a  lack of adequate nutrition can affect                                                               
the  cognitive  behavioral  development  of  children,  and  food                                                               
insecurity   has   been   associated   with   grade   repetition,                                                               
absenteeism,  tardiness,  anxiety, aggression,  poor  mathematics                                                               
skills,  psycho-social dysfunction,  and  difficulty with  social                                                               
9:12:21 AM                                                                                                                    
MARY   FRANCIS,   Executive  Director,   School   Administrators'                                                               
Association, supported SB 213. She  said she has not received any                                                               
input yet from  the school superintendants, but will  be happy to                                                               
get that for the committee.                                                                                                     
9:13:47 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  MEYER  closed  public  testimony and  held  SB  213  in                                                               
9:14:23 AM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Co-Chair Thomas adjourned the meeting at 9:14 a.m.                                                                              

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