All PA Schools Offer Free Breakfast, But Thousands Of Eligible Children Still Aren't Eating It

Researchers focused on the state of school breakfasts in Allegheny County report a combined participation rate of 57 percent for free or reduced cost breakfast, just shy of Gov. Tom Wolf’s statewide goal of 60 percent participation by 2020. 

Allies for Children and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank released the 2019 Breakfast Report on Friday. Allies executive director Patrick Dowd and Chris West, child nutrition outreach coordinator at the food bank, say they hope to encourage more children to take school breakfast, especially qualifying students who may feel stigma about accepting free meals. The report found that food consumed at school is shown to contribute as much as 50 percent of children’s daily caloric intake on school days.

Elsewhere in the program: 

As the legislature prepares to take up Wolf’s new budget plan, Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella says the fiscal health of the commonwealth is slowly improving but needs more steady revenue sources. Torsella says Pennsylvania must plan for future budgetary needs instead of balancing the budget with what he calls one-time gimmicks and tricks. “If all we do as a Pennsylvania family is simply figure out how to pay the bills and don’t make provision for the unexpected thing that’s going to arise – the car repair, the medical emergency, let alone some of the longer term priorities – then we’re not really doing our job,” he says. Hear Torsella discuss Pennsylvania’s rainy day fund, the Transparency Portal and the state's overall fiscal health.

PGH Handmade Hearts spread kindness through creativity. The organization, founded by Barbara Grossman after the Tree of Life attack in October, leaves hearts made of different materials in public places throughout the city. Grossman says she hopes the hearts “foster compassion for those impacted by acts of violence and hatred, as well as to discourage future acts of this nature.” 90.5 WESA’s Brian Cook reports.

And careers in robotics, technology and medicine nab a lot of headlines, but there’s still another path—perhaps closer to Pittsburgh’s industrial roots. On Monday, the Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh Gateways are launching a paid, pre-apprenticeship program for people seeking a job in the trades. The program sets participants up with a guaranteed apprenticeship after completion. Jeff Nobers, the guild's executive director, says careers in construction trades—including electrical engineering, carpentry, masonry, plumbing, steamfitting and more—should be coveted. The free program pays its enrollees a good wage during their training, he says, and though this first class is 91 percent women and minorities, the building trades as a whole still lacking in female and minority representation.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators join veteran journalist Kevin Gavin, taking an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.