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Peoria
Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:58am
Tue Mar 3

Over 1,000 IL Schools Joined Federal Free Meal Program This Year

More than 14,000 high-poverty schools nationwide -- including over 1,000 in Illinois -- adopted a new federal program this academic year aimed at improving access to free meals for students, according to a new analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), included in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, enables qualifying high-poverty schools to serve no-cost breakfast and lunches to all students. The program, designed to make school meal operations more efficient and help reduce hunger, eliminates the need for schools to collect household applications to determine which students are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals.

Community eligibility, which began as a pilot program in 11 states, including Illinois, became an option for qualifying schools nationwide this academic year. Illinois was among three states, allong with Kentucky and Michigan, to roll out community eligibility in some schools in the 2011-2012 academic year.

"Community eligibility not only reduces redundant paperwork at high-poverty schools but also makes possible huge gains in meeting vulnerable children's nutritional needs by providing them with a healthy breakfast and lunch at school each day," CPBB's report reads. "Reliable access to healthy meals, in turn, better prepares students to learn. The popularity of community eligibility in its first year of nationwide implementation speaks to schools' desire to improve access to healthy meals while reducing red tape, as well as to the option's sound design."

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
5:30pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Illinois Residents, Environmental Groups Sound The Alarm On Coal Ash Dangers

Illinois environmental groups and residents say the state's proposed draft rules for coal ash pits at power plant sites fall short when it comes to protecting the public from a "coal ash catastrophe." Progress Illinois details why environmentalists are calling for stronger coal ash regulations at the state level.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:18pm
Thu Jan 30, 2014

New Report Provides Sobering Look At Illinois Poverty Trends Over 50 Years

A new report from the Social IMPACT Research Center at the Heartland Alliance finds that the poverty rate in Illinois, at about 15 percent in 2012, is the same as it was in 1960.

The report, which comes on the heels of the War on Poverty's 50th anniversary, also shows that 388,000 Illinoisans still live in poverty despite having someone in their household who works full-time.  

“Today, the jobs that are available at the low-skilled end of the economy simply don’t provide wages and benefits that create economic security,” Social IMPACT Research Center Director Amy Terpstra said in a statement. “What this means is that, in Illinois, you can work full time and still be living in poverty.”

Since 1960, the number of working age Illinois men and women in poverty has increased, poverty rates have barely changed for African Americans and Latinos, and women are still more likely to be poor than men, the report showed.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
3:21pm
Tue Sep 17, 2013

Proposed Dynegy Coal Pollution Waiver Divides Environmental, Labor Groups At IL Hearing

Environmentalists and labor groups were strongly divided at an Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) hearing in Springfield Tuesday over whether the Texas-based energy company Dynegy should be granted more time to meet the state's clean air standards for five local coal-fired power plants it plans to buy. Progress Illinois was there for the hearing.