(402) 597-3100
voices@voicesforchildren.com

Economic Stability

Back to School: Is Your School a Hunger-Free Zone?

CC by 2.0 via flickr user USDAgov

CC by 2.0 via flickr user USDAgov

August means that it’s back to school season in Nebraska! As students and teachers gear up for a full year of learning in the classroom, we at Voices are turning our attention to an important factor in academic success: proper nutrition.

Research tells us that hunger negatively impacts academic performance, and is linked to health-related absences, increased behavioral issues, and even suspensions. Fortunately, school meals through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs have long since proven to be effective and successful in keeping schools well fed and well read. Access to affordable, nutritious, and balanced meals is an important part of ensuring that children are learning in a healthy and supportive school environment.

Since 2014, an exciting option to maximize school meal delivery, the Community Eligibility Provision, has been available to certain schools and districts across the country. The provision allows schools in low-income areas with high-poverty student populations to serve universal lunch and breakfast to students at no cost and without application forms. In the last year, over 18,000 schools with a total enrollment of over 8.5 million children adopted CEP and the results are more than promising.

Administrators from CEP schools report increased meal participation, fewer behavioral incidents and visits to the school nurse, reduced administrative burdens, and increased program quality and viability. The success of CEP is well-known to schools and districts across the country, with 50% of all eligible schools adopting in the most recent school year. Nevertheless, Nebraska has reported one of the lowest take-ups of CEP, with only 8% (9 of 112) of eligible schools adopting CEP last year.

The good news is that there is still time for more students to benefit from CEP! Schools and districts can continue to adopt CEP through the school year, and the Nebraska Department of Education is offering technical assistance to administrators.

Is your school already hunger-free, or could your school be a hunger-free zone? Find your school or district in the most recent notification of eligible schools and districts in the state.

Read more

Save school meals for Nebraska kids!

Last month, the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 (H.R. 5003) advanced from the U.S. House education and Workforce Committee with markups that would significantly change national child nutrition programs for the worse. As this year’s child nutrition reauthorization was being considered by the Committee, we proudly joined 750 other organizations from across the nation to oppose its harmful provisions.

Access to healthy and nutritious food is crucial for children. Research shows that hunger and undernutrition is detrimental in all stages of child development, and can result in lifelong consequences on cognition, physical and mental health, and overall well-being.[1] Unfortunately, child hunger is on the rise here in the nation’s breadbasket—last year, 1 in 7 Nebraska households didn’t know where their next meal was coming from.

Read more

Legislature to consider making more schools hunger-free

CC by 2.0 via flickr user USDAgov

CC by 2.0 via flickr user USDAgov

We all want kids to succeed in the classroom. This week, the Legislature has the opportunity to fuel students’ learning by making more Nebraska schools hunger-free zones through LB 1066, which would include provisions of LB 1004 and LB 1065 through a committee amendment.

The underlying bill is the annual technical bill for education in Nebraska, and through AM 2640, would make important changes to allow more schools to take advantage of the federal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). The CEP allows schools in high-poverty areas to serve free breakfasts and lunches to all students. Research shows that universal school meals increases meal participation and improves overall health and nutrition for students.

Read more

Happy National VITA Awareness Day!

Credit: http://401kcalculator.org via Flickr. (License)

Credit: http://401kcalculator.org via Flickr. (License)

Everyone knows that figuring out how to file federal income tax returns can be difficult. That is why Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites are so vital to know about: they are free tax preparation sites staffed by volunteers who are certified by the IRS, available for people who earn low-to-middle incomes of $54,000 or less annually, to those with limited English, or who live with disabilities. A trusted resource, the IRS found that during last year’s tax season 94% of the tax returns filed with the help of VITA volunteers were accurate.

Read more

Work and Family Life: Creating a Better Balance

PFL.issuebrief

Click here to read our full issue brief, Work and Family Life: Creating a Better Balance.

No working parent with a sick child should have to choose between making ends meet at work and taking time off to care for his or her child. Senator Crawford has introduced LB 850, which would implement paid family leave in Nebraska. This bill will make it so employees will be able to take 12 weeks of job-secured leave to care for a new child (including a newly adopted child or newly placed foster child) or for a personal sickness, and 6 weeks to take care of a family member, a covered service member who is next of kin, or for exigency leave.

Read more

New 2016 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard finds the Economic Recovery is Incomplete for Many Families

HOC_BelowPovertyLine (1)

The Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) released yesterday their annual Assets & Opportunity Scorecard. Every year, the Scorecard details how financially secure American families are, and what policies are effective in improving that situation. This year, they find that the current economic situation offers little chance for families to improve their financial stability. For example, one finding from the Scorecard is that nationally, almost half the American population are “liquid asset poor,” meaning that they are stretched thin enough financially that they have less than three months of savings built up to rely on if they lose a source of income.

Read more

Legislative Update

Today marks the 9th day of the 2016 Nebraska Legislature, and this year’s short 60-day session promises to be an important session for kids and families in our state. In the coming months, the Unicameral will consider many bills impacting child well-being in the areas of child welfare, economic stability, health, and juvenile justice.

Throughout the session, we’ll be bringing you updates on the measures that will affect Nebraska’s children and families the most and let you know what you can do to help.

Read more

OPPD Board: Vote Against Rate Restructuring Proposal

This past Tuesday, a letter of opposition to the rate restructuring proposal was submitted to the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) Board of Directors meeting. Along with thirty-plus other organizations and businesses, Voices for Children has put our support behind this letter. While appreciate that OPPD has explored modifications to the proposal to lessen the negative impact on families with low-incomes, we are still concerned that the plan does not represent an equitable deal for all.

Today, the OPPD Board is voting on the rate restructuring proposal. We urge them to vote against this plan that would disproportionately affect families with low-incomes, or table the vote in order to allow for more time to consider alternatives.

Read more