News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

March 13, 2002 2 min read

Administration Looks to Boost Summer-Meals Participation

The Bush administration says it will attempt to boost participation in the federal summer-meals program for children from low-income families.

Although nearly 14 million poor children receive free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches during the nine months of the school year, only 3 million take advantage of the two meals they are eligible for each day under the Department of Agriculture’s summer food-service program.

To improve access to the program, the Agriculture Department will no longer require schools serving the government- subsidized lunches during the academic year to reapply for the summer program.

School districts would continue to follow most of the rules for operating the regular school lunch and breakfast programs. Fourteen state agencies are also participating in a pilot program that would simplify reimbursement procedures for local program sponsors, according to the Agriculture Department.

Government officials will also reach out to more schools, community centers, clubs, and faith-based organizations to offer meals.

—Darcia Harris Bowman

Fund for Afghan Children Now at $3.7 Million

The fund to help children in Afghanistan has gotten a boost, now that American Red Cross officials have started processing donations held up at mail-handling facilities due to anthrax concerns.

Donations to President Bush’s America’s Fund for Afghan Children have now reached a total of $3.7 million, received in about 350,000 pieces of mail, according to the Red Cross.

The total had been frozen at about $1.4 million in the months since the mid-October anthrax scares, when mail to the White House and Congress was disrupted. A backlog of unopened, mailed donations was held at an off-site White House postal facility as it went through a decontamination process. (“Relief Donations Languish at Contaminated Facility,” Nov. 14, 2001.)

“Things seem to be getting back to normal,” said Stacey Grissom, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross. “I can’t answer whether we’ve gotten through everything yet, but they are working on it.”

The president on Oct. 11 announced the creation of the fund and asked schoolchildren to donate a dollar apiece to help children in war-torn Afghanistan.

—Lisa Fine

Agency Backs Special Education Study

A professor at Colorado State University will attempt to determine the most effective ways to prepare students with disabilities for life after graduation.

The Department of Education recently awarded a $1.8 million grant to the university, which is located in Fort Collins, for the three-year study.

Investigators will review and synthesize the findings from more than 5,000 national and international project reports, journal articles, evaluations, and other documents.

Brian Cobb, a professor of education at Colorado State, and his team will produce a report called “What Works: Transition Research Synthesis Project.”

—Lisa Fine

A version of this article appeared in the March 13, 2002 edition of Education Week as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup