My View: If We’re Going to Focus on Healthy Children, Let’s Get to the Core Issues

Wolk-Dan-headshot-2014Most people’s list of immediate needs in the city will necessarily focus on the city’s fiscal health – the budget, new employee contracts, and economic development including proposed innovation parks. Probably far down on the list of needs are children’s health issues.

Mayor Dan Wolk wants to change that, and has been pushing a healthy children’s initiative. As the Davis Enterprise reported on Friday, his list includes items like a smoking ban in multi-family complexes, safe routes to school, screening for developmental and behavioral challenges, stamping out bullying, and making low-fat milk the default beverage.

While we think the initiative and the focus on children’s health could be potentially beneficial, at the same time, we feel the list lacks a focus on some key issues. The other question that will come up rather quickly is whether the city, as opposed to the county or the school district, should take the lead on these issues.

As the Enterprise article notes, “The initiative was uncontroversial to most of the council.” But Councilmember Brett Lee noted that the smoking issue is likely to be more controversial, and I feel it has the potential to undermine the rest of the initiative.

Councilmember Lee told the paper he had concerns about its implementation. My biggest concern is what is not on the list.

The most surprising omission from the list is a way to deal with Davis’ growing Title One population. Davis tends to be seen as a white, upper middle class community, but the reality is more complex. About one-quarter of the schools’ population is in Title One status.

From a city perspective, the recent raid on the Royal Oak mobile home park, and the subsequent discussion at the two-by-two of the conditions at that park, highlights the nature of the vulnerable population, much of which has children in school.

A good percentage of the children that live in places like Royal Oak attend schools in Davis like Montgomery. There are children there whose only meals during the course of the day are the breakfast and lunch that they receive at school.

While Montgomery as a Title I school provides meals to children for breakfast and lunch, non-Title I schools provide only lunch. So when we moved to South Davis and moved our kid from Patwin (a Title I school) to Pioneer, he lost the ability to receive a breakfast because it is not offered. While that is not a huge deal in our house, it may be for many other kids.

Along with food is also access to health services. We had a long discussion about dental clinics after the council rejected fluoridation of water, and it seems that those efforts have since been dropped.

We also should be concerned about the issue of vaccination. Last year, Davis was reported to have a low child vaccination rate and, in some schools, the immunization rate is well below the 95 percent threshold needed to keep key diseases in check.

Going back to the issue of food, this is more of a school issue than a city issue, but I remember going to Patwin and being absolutely appalled by the food choices that were available for breakfast. My nephew, a few years ago, had a breakfast consisting of pastries, brownies, chocolate milk and other junk food. I was appalled and complained to the school and ultimately the school district – nothing happened.

I have since heard from teachers in schools like Montgomery that it’s a real problem because the kids, many of whom eat breakfast at school, load up on sugary food and then end up crashing mid-morning. This impacts not only their health but their education.

Yet when I raised the issue with some of the school board members, while they empathized, they failed to follow through.

It is great that we want to make low-fat milk or water the default beverage at restaurants, but how about putting pressure on the schools to get away from sugary breakfast food for low income kids?

We applaud the efforts of the Davis Phoenix Coalition, who will be honored by the Vanguard in two weeks, on the bullying front, but what the Davis Human Relations Commission learned two years ago goes much further than just traditional notions of bullying.

On December 1, 2012, residents from Davis and across the region attended a Davis Human Relations Commission hosted event called “Breaking the Silence of Racism.”  For a summary of the event please see here.

In our commentary in September, we noted that there were unaddressed problems for children of color in our schools. The issues that children of color face in this community has long-remained unresolved.

A number of the public commenters complained about climate issues in the school, including racially-based bullying, disparities in discipline between races, treatment of mixed-race kids, and the lack of attention given to the issue of race and racism by school climate committees.  Some parents of children of color or mixed race said that their children never were comfortable in Davis schools and ended up transferring.

In the two years since the event, we believe that minimal progress has been made.

Again, perhaps this is an issue that directly impacts our schools, but it has been an issue that the Davis Human Relations Commission has focused on.

We also are generally supportive of safe and accessible bike routes and walking routes to school, and hope that the city can continue to partner with the schools to encourage families to use modes of transportation other than simply the automobile.

So, at the end of the day, while Dan Wolk has given a lot of light to an important subject, I think he needs to go much further.

We need to get a real sense for those Title I kids – where do they live, how can the city help to work with other agencies to make sure their needs are met in terms of food, nutrition, health care, immunizations, tooth decay and other critical needs? Council needs to follow through on what it already promised on mobile dental vans and needs to look into health care and food needs.

Anti-bullying efforts are critical, but we need to look much harder at the issues of race relations and treatment of racial minorities and mixed-race children. Some of that will fall under the rubric of bullying, but it may extend beyond what we traditionally think of as bullying.

Finally, drop the anti-smoking initiative – it has the potential to cause controversy and derail the entire program.

Dan Wolk wrote, “While the city is rightly focused on many other key issues — such as fiscal stability, water issues, land-use planning and more — I don’t want to lose sight of other important efforts, specifically various health and safety concerns in our community.”

That is fine, but let’s go deeper and really address the core issues facing a large percentage of our children.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Tia Will

    Finally drop the anti-smoking initiative – it has the potential to cause controversy and derail the entire program.”

    As I have stated with regard to the upcoming election with proposition 46 which combines multiple propositions into a single bill, I do not believe that it is wise to tie various proposals into a single package.

    Having said that, I believe that the anti-smoking initiative is an idea long overdue and worth fighting for on its own merits. Not exposing those very vulnerable young airways so prone to asthma and potentially to carcinogens to second hand cigarette smoke is most certainly worthy of consideration.

    I truly believe in individual rights and freedoms. And I truly believe that those rights and freedoms end at the point where they are harmful to someone else. Smoking is an addiction, pure and simple. It has no significant health benefits and is a demonstrated direct causal agent of multiple diseases and a contributor to many more. We cannot claim to be fully promoting the health of our children until we have minimized their exposure to smoke directly and indirectly until they are old enough to make the decision about smoking themselves as an adult.

    I do not believe that the “potential to cause controversy” should be enough to stop us from doing the right thing for our children. Ridding school meals of sugary foods and beverages is also controversial from the point of view of the manufacturers of these non-foods. This should not stop us from trying to get them out of our classrooms.

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > Having said that, I believe that the anti-smoking initiative is an

      > idea long overdue and worth fighting for on its own merits. 

      I am disgusted by smoking and (fat kids that eat a lot of sugar), but I’m not sure if it makes sense for Davis to roll the SWAT team in the MRAP and get in to a “fight” every time someone won’t stop smoking in their apartment (or 200 pound “little” Johnny wants to wash down his donuts with whole milk before class at MME)…

        1. South of Davis

          Michelle wrote:

          > I’m disgusted with you attacking children.

          I’m not “attacking” children it is the bad parents and bad schools that feed them “chocolate milk, fruit loops, chocolate graham cracker cookies and pop-tarts” calling it “breakfast” that are “attacking” our poor kids messing with their bodies and putting them on a path to type 1 diabetes.

          I got lucky and never had the chance to eat all that stuff as a kid (I would have picked chocolate graham cracker cookies over oatmeal) and I get sad when I go to the Woodland Wal Mart and see the parents that weigh twice (or more) than I do with kids under 12 that weigh more than me pushing carts full of junk I would never give my kids…

    2. Elizabeth Bowler

      I completely agree, Tia.  Doing the right this is usually difficult.  It is almost never the easiest choice.  The City needs to do the right thing on this one and support the anti-smoking initiative.    I am also strongly supportive of getting sugar-laden foods and beverages out of the schools, something that will also be difficult to accomplish as you have noted.  Along those lines, I am concerned about the push for low-fat milk, which current nutrition science has shown to be more harmful than the full fat version that many of us grew up with, with more sugar and fewer nutrients.  Low fat milk should be avoided along with the other sugary foods and beverages.


      1. Tia Will


        Thanks for the link. Since I already knew the information about the lack of necessity of milk in a healthy diet, and the sugar content, it was the following statement that stood out for me.

        (Of course, ask any parent; getting kids to eat greens, nuts and fish is another story.)”

        This is a myth perpetuated even by those in the nutrition and medical professions who should know better. Children perceive what their parents eat as food and will make their selections from what is offered to them. If we do not teach them that sweet, salty and artificial treats are normal, and more desirable foods, they will not perceive them as such at least until old enough to start having play dates by which time their preferences will largely be determined. It is our responsibility as parents ( and the educators of parents) to not define sweets as rewards, to not engage in coaxing children to eat by bribing them with sweet desserts as a “reward” for good behavior or for finishing a meal. Children will not starve themselves. They will eat from what we provide. It is our responsibility to provide an appealing array of healthful choices such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits and possibly eggs, fish and …….if we must, lean meat ( although the vast preponderance of evidence is indicating that we would be better off without the latter).

        If we as adults chose to model what we know to be good behaviors dietarily, and provide only healthy options at home and in our schools, our children would simply follow our example.


      2. DavisBurns

        Thanks for pointing out low fat milk is not the best choice.

        I would add most low fat foods have more calories than the not-low fat option because of added sugar. When we worry about obesity and feed poor children highly processed food and then add low lat highly processed foods we are making a bad situation worse.  The companies that make the foods described here are being subsidized when we buy food from them for school low income food programs.  Changing that is difficult because they like their subsidies.

        i also want to add that I doubt these children don’t have access to any food except what they get at school.  They may not be fed a meal but growing kids will find food to eat if it’s in the house.  It will probably be more of what they got at school  because it is cheap and doesn’t require much or any preparation.

        All the low income housing in Davis gets regular delivery of stale bakery items so bagels and bread are readily available.  They also get deliveries of fresh produce from various sources but many of the residents have no idea how to cook a squash, beets, beet greens or chard or that they taste great so the fresh stuff has fewer takers.  We need a program where they are taught how to cook more than top ramen and Mac and cheese.  That isn’t to say all poor people don’t know how to cook but if you get three generations of poverty, there is a good chance no one knows how to cook more than the most simple packaged food…and their choices for eating out will be the cheapest fast food and they will prefer that over other options.  In fact, a friend of a friend who lives in one of the housing complexes says all the people he knows there prefer what he considers to be really bad food. He is disabled, lives on very low income but he grew up in a family where real food was served so he is aware of the difference in culture.  He isn’t the only person who has told a similar story.   If you scratch the surface of the problem, you find there isn’t a one step easy fix to the problem.

  2. Michelle Millet

    While substitute teaching at Montgomery I watch the kids who receive free breakfast poor chocolate milk into a bowls of fruit loops, then proceed to dip  chocolate graham cracker cookies into to. They follow it all up with a pop-tart.

    This is is the quality of the breakfasts children on the free and reduced lunch program receive. If we are going for healthier kids making some basic, and cost neutral changes (i.e., no sugared cereals, and only plain milk)  to this program might be a good place to start.

    1. Elizabeth Bowler

      Completely agree.  Lowfat chocolate milk contains more sugar that Coke.  I find it shocking that flavored lowfat milk is allowed in the schools.


      1. Michelle Millet

        Also the drinking fountain on the main playground is too high for majority of the 1st and maybe 2nd graders to reach. There needs to be a stool in place for them to drink out of it.

  3. Anon

    The problem here is that for most of the issues raised, e.g. quality of food served at school, lack of action on bullying, the city has no control over those issues.  One item mentioned, the provision of access to dental clinics for children, the city does have control over.  The city should tackle those things it has the ability to control.  To take on issues the school controls is tilting at windmills, unless there is some way the city can bring pressure to bear, which I don’t see on these issues.  Heck, trying to get decent food in school lunches is a problem the federal gov’t is trying to tackle, with limited success.

    1. wdf1

      One thing that the city does have control over is recreational programs for kids.  There are low income vouchers available, but they can be difficult to obtain (a limited number and only half off).  I am concerned for how many (or few) low income families have access to basic swimming instruction.

      There are also a number of recreational activities, not overseen by the city, that feed into school extra-curricular programs.  I’m thinking of Davis AYSO soccer, Davis Aquadarts, Little League, club volleyball, tennis, etc.  Although some scholarships are offered, it would be worth surveying what kind of access lower income families have to these programs.

      1. Michelle Millet

        If the mayor is concerned with the health of our children I would hope that he could apply some pressure to the school district to evaluate the quality of the food being provided to the most vulnerable kids in our community.

        1. Anon

          Michelle, I don’t disagree that the quality of the food served in the schools needs improvement, but I very much doubt a city mayor putting pressure on federally and state funded local schools to change the nutritional content of school breakfast and lunches is going to happen.  Remember when the feds declared ketchup a “vegetable”?  I would rather see the mayor concentrate on what he can change, rather than fruitlessly tilting at windmills with nothing to show for his efforts.

          That said, what happened to the program in the Davis schools to bring local produce into the school menus?  I cannot remember the name of the program, but supposedly citizens paid extra money to start up this program.  Something like $50,000 was spent to train cafeteria workers how to prepare more nutritional meals using locally grown produce.

        2. Michelle Millet

          The Farm to Fork program focuses on lunches, not breakfast. Again the only kids eating breakfast at school are those who finically qualify for the free or reduced lunch program.

          The successful implementation of the Farm to Fork program seems to suggest that we have some local control over the food being served to our children at school.

          In any event change needs to start somewhere. If healthy children is the goal then I think the quality of breakfast being served to our low income kids, everyday at school should be put under some scrutiny by our mayor.

      2. tj

        In my experience, getting a city voucher for recreational/health programs is very difficult, and it only covered a portion of the cost.  I was helping a person with limited education and limited income who could not navigate the requirements on his own, and the end result was that the voucher covered so little that it was a waste of time.

        Sports are very important for social and emotional growth, it would be excellent if they were available to low income kids.

    2. MrsW

      The city should tackle those things it has the ability to control.

      I agree.  The City can control its own organization and organize citizens. I like the idea that the City improve accessibility to physical activity.  Though there is more they could do, it sounds like right now the City could review and improve their need-based criteria and application process.  The City is also in a position to help youth in another way.  We are in a college town with many over-18 employees.  Many businesses find that their insurance rates are higher, if they allow their under 18 employees to do certain tasks (using slicers or hot ovens come to mind ), so they don’t hire them at all.  The City already hires and trains youth, but they could do more to provide higher numbers of youth with real work experience.  The City is no longer one of many youth employers, they are practically the only youth employer.   Particularly in the summer; there are a lot of idle 14-19 year old residents who could be organized into crews to pick corn or restore Putah Creek, for example.  I also want to point out that repairing the swimming pools would affect youth.  Until recently, third graders from North Davis Elementary had swimming lessons at Community Pool each spring.  I don’t know the numbers, but I was told by one teacher that each year there were first-time swimmers. That is a safety issue.

  4. wdf1

    Vanguard:  I have since heard from teachers in schools like Montgomery that it’s a real problem because the kids, many of whom eat breakfast at school, load up on sugary food and then end up crashing mid-morning. This impacts not only their health but their education.

    Yet when I raised the issue with some of the school board members, while they empathized, they failed to follow through.

    Probably a better channel for advocacy on this issue is Davis Farm to School.  I think their focus has mostly been on school lunches, but school breakfast is even more critical for those kids who need it.

    1. Michelle Millet

      From what I can see the quality of lunches is much higher then those of the breakfast. It’s only the kids that come from low-income families that receive the breakfasts though, which may be one of the reasons it has fallen through the cracks.  I have spoken to a lot of people about this issue, and no one seems concerned enough about it to do anything. I hope with the mayor’s new focus on healthy children this issue may finally be addressed.

      1. wdf1

        M. Millet:  It’s only the kids that come from low-income families that receive the breakfasts though, which may be one of the reasons it has fallen through the cracks.

        And I think there’s a subtle message given when schools offer nutritionally inferior food for breakfast: that high-processed, sugar-loaded foods are the norm, and such students lose the opportunity to develop a taste and affinity for better quality food.

        1. Michelle Millet

          I agree. It also sends a message to parents and caregivers that this is appropriate or even healthy food to be serving children. (Did I mention the pop-tarts are whole grain?)

  5. Frankly

    Build the business parks and bring in some great companies that Davis needs and deservers, and someone can (maybe me) will start a foundation funded from donation of these companies to build a healthy food service for the schools in the farm to fork model.

    Talk about putting Davis on the map as a REAL progressive city… being the center of the world of food science and food production… why are we not leveraging that distinction to be the best at it?

    I am a cook and a food snob having some success changing the habits of many of my friends that had previously been abused by their parents’ terrible food habits.

    I have often written that the education system needs to shift toward teaching more life skills instead of trying to create ideological left-leaning “good citizens”.  I would support injecting food and culinary sophistication into the brains and habits of these kids to replace the injection of so much one-side social and political dogma.

    1. wdf1

      Frankly:  …someone can (maybe me) will start a foundation funded from donation of these companies to build a healthy food service for the schools in the farm to fork model.

      Frankly, rather than have you reinvent the fork, let me introduce you to Davis Farm to School, which is probably doing a lot of what you would aspire to.  This organization was the nucleus for Yolo Farm to Fork, which is based in Davis.  They would probably appreciate a food snob like yourself, especially if you have time to give and/or money to donate.

    2. Anon

      To Frankly:  LOL  Your idea of teaching kids how to cook used to be called “home ec” in my day and was in essence only open to girls.  What a concept – bring back “home ec”!

      1. wdf1

        Davis High School offers home economics courses, still.  Please refer to page 28 of the high school catalog.  Last time I had a child in one of those courses, it was taught by Ms. Pettigrew, a very nice lady and an asset to this district as a teacher. It was the Food and Nutrition course. One of the more valuable courses that my kids took at DHS, for both boys and girls.

        1. Jim Frame

          My son took Ms. Pettigrew’s Food and Nutrition course as a sophomore last year, mostly because the kids get to eat what they make in class.  He went from being a non-cook to being an occasional cook, which we consider to be a great leap forward.

  6. MidCentury

    I applaud the Mayor’s intention, but it reads a little to me like a Trickle Down approach. I believe we should start by building a strong foundation at the most vulnerable levels. Once we have nutritious breakfasts and lunches available to everyone, we can start addressing unhealthy environments, both physical and mental.

  7. Tia Will


    I would like to play devil’s advocate here. I do not see why we cannot take an inclusive approach to teaching and promoting only healthy behaviors in our schools, our public places and our homes. I would encourage us to think big rather than small and in an integrated rather than fragmented fashion about how to promote a truly healthy lifestyle starting with our children. If we were to succeed in getting the majority of our children to not smoke, use people powered or at least public transportation, stay physically active and not indulge in junk and fast foods this would pay off within one generation in terms of decreased financial costs for health care spending.

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > If we were to succeed in getting the majority of our children to not smoke, use

      > people powered or at least public transportation, stay physically active and not

      > indulge in junk and fast foods this would pay off within one generation in terms

      > of decreased financial costs for health care spending.

      I’m not saying we should get more people to smoke, drive everywhere, sit around and eat junk food, but to “play devil’s advocate” is is important to remember that overweight smokers in bad shape don’t live as long and while they have higher health care costs while they are alive and paying income tax, social security and Medicare, for the most part we won’t be sending them a Social Security or Government pension check for nearly as long.  Almost any program results in people living longer will not “pay off” in a financial sense and will cost taxpayers more money…

      1. Anon

        “If we were to succeed in getting the majority of our children to not smoke, use people powered or at least public transportation, stay physically active and not indulge in junk and fast foods this would pay off within one generation in terms of decreased financial costs for health care spending.”

        First, this smacks of social engineering – “I’ve decided the lifestyle that is best for everyone”.  Second, if everyone started riding public transportation, the public transportation system would crumble under the weight of the increased ridership.  Thirdly, I don’t think it is necessarily a bad thing to indulge in junk food once in a while.

        To some extent this is being tried in work places, where people are literally being fined for not joining the employer’s preventative health program, or being penalized for being overweight.  As a result, some of these programs are ending up in court, as a violation of federal civil rights.

        1. Tia Will


          “this smacks of social engineering – “I’ve decided the lifestyle that is best for everyone”.

          It is not what I have decided. It is what has been shown again and again in multiple studies involving multiple different cultures. Those who are active and eat diets higher in plants and plant products live longer and more importantly healthier lives. Those who live in less smoggy environments have better respiratory function than those who live in smoggy areas.

          What your response smacks of to me, is don’t even suggest to me what might be healthier practices let alone don’t tell me what to do. You also have chosen to distort what I said. I made no comment at all about an occasional treat. My point was about the common practice of using unhealthy foods in a regular system of rewards and punishments. It also was about setting examples, not being punitive.

          If everyone started using public transportation, the public transportation system would crumble. Amazing that this is not the experience in many other parts of the world where use of public transportation is much more extensive than it is here….and still thriving.

          To some extent this is being tried in work places, where people are literally being fined for not joining the employer’s preventative health program”

          I am aware of multiple work places that are rewarding employees for participating in wellness programs. I am unaware of any where people are being fined for “not joining the employer’s preventative health program”

          Can you provide the source of your information ?

      2. Tia Will


        I see your point, but would counter that we do not actually know what would happen economically if we were to extend life with less accompanying medical problems. We don’t know because we have never experienced it. If people were healthy until very near the time of their death instead of steadily, but slowly deteriorating over many years in assisted living or nursing homes, it might not cost us more overall as a society. Inadequate information to judge as I should have qualified in my initial post.

  8. hpierce

    If David is correct, and not using hyperbole, when he states, There are children there whose only meals during the course of the day are the breakfast and lunch that they receive at school., then CPS should be called in, and those children permanently removed from those homes.  How were they being fed before they entered school? 

    1. tj


      Children are almost always very attached to their parents.  Taking them away from their parents is a terribly traumatic situation which may haunt and hinder them for their entire lives.

      Much better to educate, support, monitor, and/or threaten the parents than to do lasting harm by taking kids away from parents.   And, would foster care be any better?   It’s not often that foster care is beneficial to children.    I know that some of us are or have been foster parents doing everything we can for our foster children, but generally that is not the norm.

      1. hpierce

        Neither you nor South of Davis answered my question… though you questioned my suggestion…  my question was, who fed the kids before they entered into school?

        Saying they don’t eat dinner because of the junk food at school is a ‘feint’.  Non-responsive.

        If parents have to have their kids in school to feed them, should they be parents?

        1. Tia Will

          If parents have to have their kids in school to feed them, should they be parents?”

          Of course not ( unless disabled post having the children), but the children still need to be fed.

          Unless  you are advocating for the state enforcing who can and who cannot have children in advance, the question is irrelevant as the children still need to eat.

          I have proposed voluntary placement of long term reversible contraceptives at puberty as a partial solution to this issue. This would help by making pregnancy deliberate, not accidental for those accepting this option. Don has supported voluntary highly effective contraception as a partial solution in terms of avoiding unintended pregnancy. On other threads, Rich has recommended financially rewarding teen for not becoming pregnant. However, as Don has rightfully pointed out, the teen birth rate has dropped significantly in recent years largely due to increased usage of the highly reliable contraceptives. It will be interesting to watch whether this trend will continue into the adult age groups where we have not had such success in decreasing the unintended pregnancy rate.

    2. South of Davis

      hpierce wrote:

      > If David is correct, and not using hyperbole, when he states, There are

      > children there whose only meals during the course of the day are the

      > breakfast and lunch that they receive at school.

      I’m sure it happens, but I bet more often than not when the “only meals during the course of the day are the breakfast and lunch that they receive at school” the reason is that they are so stuffed from eating Pop Tarts and Pizza that they don’t want anything at night (and just decide to wait to get more free chocolate milk and Pop Tarts in the morning).

      The USDA stopped even trying to find “hungry” Americans and now we just have people that are “food insecure”.  Since (according to the official USDA definition) anyone who “substitutes cheaper foods” or “eats less for financial reasons” is “food insecure” that makes me (and just about everyone I know) “food insecure” since I often buy the cheaper non organic avocados and recently we decided to save money (and eat a lot less) when we had dinner at Ella rather than the Kitchen.

      The reason the school lunch program was started was to get billions of taxpayer dollars to politically connected firms and while it may not provide great food to the kids it keeps growing and giving more and more money to the politically connected each year so they can kick back (aka make perfectly legal campaign contributions) more to cover the increasing cost of getting the people that set them up re-elected.


      1. hpierce

        Although I am generally described as a liberal, by those who know me well, I did not marry until my future spouse and I were pretty sure we could support ourselves without parental help, tho’ we knew we could count on them in an emergency.  We didn’t have any emergencies.

        We did not decide the have children (altho’ the first was an unplanned ‘surprise’) until we were reasonably sure that we could love and support them without parental or government help.

        I do not understand, absent a family trauma, (unanticipated), where people bring children into this world, expecting other family/religious institutions, Federal Government, State Government, County Government, School District Government, and now (proposed) City Government to cover their ‘choices’.  I just don’t understand.  Maybe in Africa, India, etc., but in Davis , CA, USA?

        There have been many recently on this forum who criticized the parents of a young man who supposedly had his mental health issues ‘overlooked’, yet he was fed, sheltered, schooled.  There has been a bad outcome.

        I stand by my assertion that if there are parents of young children who are only fed by DJUSD programs, they are unfit parents, and if the “state” is to pick up all the costs, the “state” should take these children under their wing, and remove the parents from the equation.  If family/churches/volunteer organizations want to pick it up instead, fine.

        I know David will villify me, as he has said he has a relative who apparently was unable to take care of their child, but now he and Cecillia are taking care of the child (very noble, and worthy of praise and admiration), yet seem to expect the public at large to cover most, if not all, their costs.

        We willingly give to charities (big time, as a %-age of income) for children.  I resent the concept that we HAVE to contribute more.

        1. Frankly

          hpierce – why with this thinking do you consider yourself a liberal?  You are espousing the traditional American conservative principle of self responsibility and accountability.

          Related to this, I have a simple picture in mind.

          With respect to money taken from me to fund social services, I see the current system as a big enterprise that takes care of people that cannot or will not take care of themselves.   Basically a three step money flow: producer – looter – victim.    The producers go out and make money, and then the social justice crusaders loot it to give to those they see as victims in need of help.

          Instead of this I would like to see a continuous-improvement system loop process where the goal is not to just meet the financial needs of the victim, but to grow the individual to become economically self-sufficient. A transformation to a change like this requires a change in the social justice mindset.   But victims are exploited for political power through groupism and classism.  It, frankly, is not a good thing for the Democrats to grow self-sufficiency in their constituency because the break of codependency will lead to a changed electorate that would mean more current victim-class people would vote Republican on principles.

          But being a victim is a slippery slope for the underdeveloped human.  It is hard work to face up to your own shortcomings and mistakes and strive for improvement.  It feels better for someone else to take charge… telling you that you are a victim of others’ actions not your own… and that you are owed caring and restitution.  Once those ideas are planted in your head, you are effectively locked into the plantation of dependency that makes you a reliable Democrat voter for life, and likely your family and all subsequent generations of your family will also be dependent and Democrat.

          And don’t let stories of the few that manage to break out and become a doctor fool you.  They are exceptional exceptions and their numbers are two few to be used as poster-children for the “cause”.

          And this sort of thing explanation will piss off a lot of left-leaning people.  And the fact that it pisses them off tells me I am accurate and hit the right nerve.

        2. TrueBlueDevil

          Exactly. I grew up with Democrats, maybe it was a different place and time… many Midwestern, Christian, Depression-reared Democrats… who would work any job, and took it as a source of pride not to take “government handouts”.

          An unspoken issue here, not PC, are single women with children. Where are the “fathers” / boyfriends / former boyfriends / flings? Why should we pay for his roll / role in the hay? There is an economic issue here (poverty is much, much higher with single parents), and there is a parenting issue … even with two parents, it is a very tough job. And we expect one to do it?

        3. Jim Frame

          And the fact that it pisses them off tells me I am accurate and hit the right nerve.

          What it should be telling you is that you’re locked into a continuous system loop process in which listening to your own Randian rhetoric leads you to actually believe it.

      2. Tia Will

        The USDA stopped even trying to find “hungry” Americans and now we just have people that are “food insecure”.”

        Well  then I would say that the USDA isn’t looking very hard since as Anon pointed out,  many Americans rely on food banks and food stamps to avoid being hungry.

  9. Tia Will


    We did not decide the have children (altho’ the first was an unplanned ‘surprise’) until we were reasonably sure that we could love and support them without parental or government help.”

    I think that this statement reveals a lot about the problem of unintended pregnancy. You state that you and your husband delayed marriage until you were reasonably sure that you could support them without assistance. And this is how most of us believe that it should be. But then you state that the first was unplanned. Is it so much of a stretch to believe that sometimes the “unplanned” could occur before a couple is financially stable ?  50 % of pregnancies in this country are unplanned regardless of socioeconomic group. ( Info from internal data on initial pregnancy intake from Kaiser in our region). Some people do not have parents or other family who can back them up financially when the unexpected happens…..whether that be a child or an unanticipated illness or accident.

    We have come far enough medically speaking to make an unintended pregnancy less than a 1 % /year probability if only we could get people to choose non-pregnancy instead of pregnancy as the default position. It can be done easily and safely and without any claim of “abortifacient” to cause some to opt out. It’s use would be convenient, minimally invasive and voluntary. It carries with it no increased risk of blood clot formation, infection, or cancer and it has minimal side effects. It is called the Nexplanon. It is a small flexible progesterone containing rod placed in the upper arm in a less than five minute procedure which is virtually painless once the arm is injected with lidocaine.

    This  should not be seen as condoning sex at a young age. If desired, it could be placed at the time of puberty as a right of passage much as is getting one’s first bra, or using sanitary products for the first time. For others it might also serve to lessen heavy menstrual periods just as birth control pills are now used by many girls and women who are not sexually active.

    My point is that we have now available to us the means to prevent 99% of unintended pregnancies. What we lack is the mindset that this is a goal worth achieving. We seem to persist in our belief that the only pregnancy that should be prevented is that of someone lower on the economic scale than ourselves. And yet it is our own children, and those of individuals higher on the economic scale than ourselves,  whether intended or not, whether loved and wanted or not, who will end up using more of the world’s limited resources.

    Perhaps primary prevention, now potentially available to everyone with insurance, with the possibility of preventing unwanted pregnancies which frequently end in abortion, and unintended pregnancies which even if wanted and loved, frequently result in economic hardship would be a better approach than endless arguing over who should assume responsibility for the care of children whose parents are unable to do so.


    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Is this farther into the “big brother” scenario? And there are a big chunk of these births that are desired, some are actually “anchor babies” in our golden state, and others see it as a way to have someone to love, when they themselves feel unloved, or were born into a chaotic home environment. This is what was modeled. Others see the welfare benefits that come along with being a mother with child, and the young men see it as proof of their virility to have a child, without being able to raise or provide for the child. President Obama has spoken about this two or three times, good, but not enough.


      Medical devices don’t solve many of these issues.

      1. Tia Will


        I completely agree that medical devices don’t solve many of these issues.  As a gynecologist, I of course am most focused on my specific contribution. In this regard, I would like to highlight the last part of the Brookings Institute article posted by Don.

        “We argue that limited opportunities for disadvantaged young women to move up

        the economic ladder play an important role in the high rates of teen childbearing in the U.S. If we are to

        increase the rate of decline in teen births, we need to provide young women with the ability to succeed in

        other dimensions of their life so that they want to avoid giving birth at a young age. In our view, human

        capital investments in early childhood education, college access, and other such interventions are every

        bit as important as more targeted, teen pregnancy reduction efforts.”

        I have also attempted to address the problems of a much smaller but very vulnerable group of young adults, those aging out of foster care,  in my article posted by David today. You are correct that the social issues involved are complicated and need to be addressed holistically. However, some of the solutions are simple and require only a change of mindset and adequate availability and funding.

  10. Anon

    To hpierce: I understand where you are coming from, but I think your focus is way to narrow when you hone in on the idea that people should not become pregnant until they can afford it.  Bad things happen.  A parent may have an unexpected pregnancy, lose their job, or become disabled, and through no fault of their own not have the financial wherewithal to feed their kids.  That is what the safety net programs are all about.

    That said, I think David Greenwald’s comment about low income children only getting two meals a day is probably off base as a generality.  Low income folks have access to food banks, food stamps, community meals, etc.  So I highly doubt that kids of the low income are receiving all their meals at school and not getting their suppers.

    However, does it happen, that some children come from such a poor background that they go hungry?  Yes.  I can think of an example of that when I was going to elementary school.  A kid in our class would come without lunch, so I used to give him half my sandwich, and the teacher bought him milk.  But that was before free lunch programs in schools, and before food stamps.

    1. DavisBurns

      I don’t know how old you are but the food stamp program is 50 years old, created by Lyndon Johnson in 1964.  Contrary to what conservative’s think, it was a subsidy to farmers and retailer food businesses.  It was administered by the Department of Agriculture.  Farmers and retailers sold more food and made more profit.  Hungry people got fed but that was a by product. In recent years it has been administered by a different agency because it’s easier to critize it when it isn’t run by the ve partner of agriculture.

    2. wdf1

      Anon:  Low income folks have access to food banks, food stamps, community meals, etc.  So I highly doubt that kids of the low income are receiving all their meals at school and not getting their suppers.

      I don’t see that it is really about having food per se as much as having balanced, healthy foods.  For lack of it (balanced, healthy diet), low income kids go obese and come down with diabetes and other preventable maladies.  The operative representative equation that determines the diet of many lower income families is that a Twinkie typically costs less than a fresh apple, and a Twinkie has more calories.  And more government agricultural subsidies go into producing a Twinkie than an apple.

    3. TrueBlueDevil

      When 30 or 40 percent of people are having children outside of marriage (dramatically higher in some groups), it’s hard to label all of those an accident.

      It seems like childhood obesity is as much of a problem, or more of a problem, than hunger.

      It’s also interesting to see the people who seem to have a problem feeding their children, having a collection of tattoos, sports apparel, and sometimes expensive social habits (booze, cigarettes, marijuana, and drugs).

      I fear that we have lost the lessons of the great depression, of traditional american values, and that we now want Uncle Sam to raise our children.

      The fact that that same uncle is feeding them chocolate milk, fruit loops, pastries and graham crackers for breakfast should tell you how competent this relative is. He should be fired.

  11. Anon

    “It is called the Nexplanon. It is a small flexible progesterone containing rod placed in the upper arm in a less than five minute procedure which is virtually painless once the arm is injected with lidocaine.”

    Many may not agree with this approach to “birth control”.

    1. Tia Will


      Many may not agree with this approach to “birth control”.

      I would love to hear their objections. Most of the objections that women have to birth control for either themselves or their daughters are based on erroneous information. A chance to educate frequently changes minds. What do you see as the major objections. And as an aside, why did you put “birth control” in quotes ?

  12. Miwok

    It is interesting everyone talks about “the children” without talking about THEIR parents. They are not YOUR kids. Those Parents undo everything the schools do, and sometime delight in it. Figure that out, and you have made progress toward a good community.

    If you make the family healthy, you make the children healthy. When you talk only about the children, you speak as you are somehow in charge of the world. Why not make those breakfast and lunch menus available to the families who need support? If the parents come with the children to eat breakfast, you reduce truancy and absences. I see kids whose parents are completely irresponsible, but in school they are expected to behave as if they came from two-parent responsible families. Get these parents to embrace the schools and the children thrive.

    It underscores to me why food programs are not enough.

  13. Tia Will



    If you make the family healthy, you make the children healthy. “

    I appreciate your holistic approach recognizing that the well being of children is dependent on the well being of the family. Perhaps inviting families in for breakfast would provide for much greater benefits in terms of being able to sit down together for at least one meal a day ( dependent of course on the parents work schedules ) and share a nutritious meal not composed on what ever could be grabbed. When my children were in grade school each of them looked forward to the days when I volunteered right before lunch and then we could sit down and eat with their friends together.


    Low income folks have access to food banks, food stamps, community meals, etc.”

    Do you really think that this hit and miss approach to hunger is really the best that we can do given the collective wealth of our society ?

    1. Miwok

      If your children looked forward to you visiting, Tia, you have a unique family, but these are not the kids being described. I point this out because for part of my life I lived in a single parent house, had a job it seems all my life, and later absentee parents. Knowing this, I also knew kids who had it worse than I.

      Since then I have met many families with many dynamics who are not that involved with their kids, like mine were not. I was lucky enough to meet parents and classmates who had a good family life, and I made that my goal, to emulate a positive relationship with any kids I was responsible for. Some told me later I did that.

      When you talk about nutrition, yes I agree. Many families do not know what a meal time is, and frozen crap or fast food is all they have to choose from. I hear parents ask the kid “what do you want” at a fast food place, I still cringe. I did not get to order anything until I was at least 12, and if it was not suitable, was always overridden by the parent! 🙂

    2. Frankly

      No.  We can grow the economy so there are plentiful jobs and careers, significantly improve the education system, and then demand that more people work for a living so they can satisfy their own family needs.

      Other than that, every other “solution” is false, unsustainable, and destructive.

  14. Tia Will


    demand that more people work for a living so they can satisfy their own family needs.”

    And how exactly do you suggest that we “demand” that people unable to support themselves ( due to addiction, inability to work due to lack of support from their own parents in order to obtain and education, accident or other disability) to “satisify their own family needs.” Do we just let their children subsist on what the schools provide, or rely on the totally inadequate foster care system ?

    1. Don Shor

      He said “and then demand” all of that. So first we have to get plentiful jobs and careers. I’m curious what the benchmarks for that will be. But until those are met, all of the social welfare programs stay in place!

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        How about we start with a Work Program like in WWII< house people in barracks, have them work on public projects, and help pay for their own upkeep if they are so destitute?

        If we closed our border, wages and benefits would rise as we would have a lowered Supply curve. Basic economics. Even Senator Barbara Jordan, D from Texas, was for this. She actually wanted no immigration for 5 years to allow lower-skilled or unemployed African Americans to ‘catch up’.

        1. DavisBurns

          Everyone focuses on illegal immigration but we allow 1.1 MILLION to immigrate legally every year. A small portion are refugees.  Don’t know how people figure we can assimilate that many people annually.  That a new city of a million people every year. That isn’t sustainable yet congress is considering doubling the number.

  15. Frankly


    Two Versions:
      The ant works
    in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and  laying up 
    supplies for the winter.
       The grasshopper
    the ant is a fool and laughs 
    and dances and plays the summer away.
       Come  winter,
    the ant is warm
    well fed.
     The grasshopper has
    food or shelter, so he
    dies  out in 
    the cold.
      Be responsible
    for yourself!
      The ant works hard
    in  the 
    withering heat and the rain all summer long, building his house  
    and  laying up 
    supplies for the winter.
       The  grasshopper thinks the ant
    a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
      Come winter, the
    shivering grasshopper
    calls  a 
    press conference and demands to know why the ant should 
    allowed  to be 
    warm and well fed while he is cold and starving..
       CBS,  NBC,
    PBS, CNN,
    and  ABC show
    up to
    pictures of the shivering grasshopper
    next  to a
    video of the ant
    his comfortable home with a table filled with food.
    is stunned by the sharp contrast.
       How can this be, that
    in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper  
    is allowed to 
    suffer so?
     Kermit  the
    Frog appears
    on  Oprah
    the grasshopper
    everybody cries when they sing, ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green
     Occupy  the
    Anthill stages
    demonstration in front of the ant’s
    where the news stations film the SEIU group singing, We
    shall overcome.
     Then  Rev Al
    Sharpton’s assistant 
    has  the group kneel down to pray for 
    the grasshopper  
    he damns the ants. The Reverend Al can not attend as he has contractual 
    commitments to appear on his MSNBC show for which he is paid over two million 
    dollars a year to complain that rich people do not care.
    Obama condemns
    the ant
    Bush 43, President Bush 41, President Reagan,
    Christopher     Columbus, and the
    the grasshopper’s
       Nancy Pelosi
    & Harry Reid
    in an interview on The View
    the ant has
    rich off the back of the
    grasshopper  ,
    and  both call
    for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair
    the EEOC drafts
    the  Economic  Equity 
    to the beginning of
      The  ant is fined for failing
    to hire a proportionate number  
    of  green  bugs and,
    nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by 
    the  Government  
    Green Czar
    and  given 
    to the grasshopper.
       The  story ends
    as we see the grasshopper
    and  his 
    free-loading friends finishing up the last bits of the ant’s  food while the 
    government house he is in, which, as you recall, just  happens to be 
    the ant’s  old house,
    around them because the grasshopper  doesn’t maintain 
      The  ant has disappeared in
    the snow, never to be seen again.
      The  grasshopper  is found dead in a
    drug related incident, and the house, now  abandoned, is taken
    by a gang of spiders  who terrorize the 
    ramshackle, once prosperous   and  peaceful, 
      The  entire Nation collapses
    bringing  the 
    the free world with it.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        We know that single-parent families make up a large percentage of this group, typically single women. So if we want to try to dampen this, we could go back to requiring the mother to identify the father at birth so that he could at least take financially responsibility for his child. That would help the mother, the child, and should cause some men to change their ways.

        Second, we know that a lot of undocumented immigrants live in so-called poverty.

        Third, if we closed the border, wages would rise for our lower-skilled workers, helping to lift them out of poverty. (More jobs, higher benefits and wages.)

        Lack of education is also a component, along with literacy.

        Lastly, we could recalculate our poverty numbers so that someone who gets $30,000 or $40,000 a year in gov’t benefits is no longer classified as poor.

        1. Don Shor

          Providing access to reliable, inexpensive birth control would take care of much of it. The teen birth rate in this country has dropped steadily, and dropped dramatically in the last four years. A major factor is the ready availability of effective birth control.

        2. Tia Will


          A few thoughts about your post.

          1. Identifying the father makes two assumptions. First it assumes that the woman knows who the father is…not always the case. Secondly it assumes that the father has the ability to financially support the child…also not always the case. In either event, the child is still here and needs to be fed. Again, primary prevention is the solution to this scenario. What we need in my opinion is a combined approach in which young women  ( and men ) are provided an incentive and clear pathway to a better economic future if they delay pregnancy and pursue a career. Just saying that this is what they should do is insufficient. As Anon’s post about “social engineering” makes clear, most people do not like to feel that they are being told what to do, even if part of them knows that the advice is sound. The challenge from my point of view is to create situations in which it is obviously more advantageous, and there is a clearly defined path to pursue independence.

          2. I am not sure why you attach the words “so called poverty” to those who are undocumented. Do you suppose that living in poverty should be defined differently because of where you happen to have been born ?

          3. If we close the borders, wages would not rise for our low skilled workers. Do you suppose that the wages paid to the undocumented workers are going to lift anyone out of poverty ? What these wages do is ensure that people continue to live in poverty regardless of the location of their birth.

          4. Poverty is defined by the amount of income that someone has, not by the source of that income.

        3. South of Davis

          Tia wrote:

          > Poverty is defined by the amount of income that

          > someone has, not by the source of that income.

          That was TBDs point, a person with a kid who “makes” $9/hour working 30/hrs a week at Wal-Mart is considered below the “poverty line” if he does not take a penny from the government just like the guy that makes as much even if they get $12K/year free housing, $12K year free healthcare, $2K/year in food stamps, $1K/year from the PG&E CARE program, $500/year free breakfast and lunch for the kid at school, and a long list of other free stuff for people in “poverty” who know how to work the system.

          In America people who work hard are punished (the government takes more and more of their their money) while people that don’t feel like working are rewarded (the government gives them more and more money and free Pop Tarts).

          The link below has a great report put together by the Pennsylvania Welfare Dept. (not some right wing group) showing that for most people (who do not have high paid skills) it makes more sense to take Government cash).


      2. Frankly

        Lack of economic growth and lack of career opportunities combined with a crappy education system and an a government hand-out system that corrupts entire generations of families into lifestyle patterns that makes them lazy and mistake prone, and keeps them in poverty.  An open-borders immigration non-enforcement policy that floods the country with millions of uneducated and economically and socially unsophisticated people that swells the population of American underclass to a level beyond what we can assimilate given the previous.

        Thanks for quoting that piece for me.  I did not know where it came from… it was an email from a friend that I had saved.

  16. TrueBlueDevil

    I find it interesting that in a town run by Democrats / Progressives, including the school system and school board, would serve our children chocolate milk, fruit loops, pastries and graham crackers for breakfast.

    That should tell you how competent they are.

    I am sure they are all “well meaning”, have numerous graduate degrees and certificates from the finest schools in the land. But they lack basic common sense and leadership.

    But they have no problem fighting for their school pension, their manager’s salary, or superintendents that often make well in excess of $200,000 a year.

    1. wdf1

      TBD: …superintendents that often make well in excess of $200,000 a year.

      Hammond made slightly more than $200K, I think.  I’m unaware of any other DJUSD superintendent making more than that. Do you know something more?

      1. South of Davis

        Wait until it is time to hire a new one and (like with the city manager) they compare to other places that make more like “Centinela Valley Union High School District in Los Angeles County came under fire earlier this year over the $750,000 compensation package paid to its now former superintendent, who was also given a $910,000 home loan with a 2 percent interest rate.”

        P.S. Gov. Jerry Brown, earns $176,000 in salary and benefits (less than the Davis city manager, the Davis school superintendent)…

  17. Barbara King

    I was wondering how much latitude California schools have with their school breakfast menus, and–to judge from tomorrow’s breakfast menu at one California elementary school–in at least one county they have enough latitude to do better than provide a sugar fest.

    Monday November 03, 2014

    ▸3-cheese Quesadilla
    ▸Awesome Apple
    ▸1% White Milk
    ▸Fat Free Lactose Milk
    ▸Fat Free White Milk

  18. Tia Will


    And don’t let stories of the few that manage to break out and become a doctor fool you.  They are exceptional exceptions and their numbers are two few to be used as poster-children for the “cause”.

    Now this is interesting as it is exactly how I view the conservative myth of the “self made man”.

    No one who is successful got there without the underpinnings of the society in which they were raised. Even those who come from abject poverty without personally believing that they have accepted government help, have received help along the way. That help may have been from a benevolent benefactor, or from hard work in the public school system ( government provided), or from getting their start in the military ( government provided), or just from the fact that the basic infrastructure that allows for capitalist expansion ( roads and other forms of public transportation ( government subsidized in many cases), food ( farm subsidies ), emergency room care ( provided by the insurance of others), the source is not the point. The point is that no one, repeat no one, becomes self sufficient, let alone rich without multiple sources of help. The main difference that I see is willingness to admit this obvious truth.

    1. Frankly

      What I am referring to is the corrupting influence of so many hand-outs.   I support the hand-up.

      If you come from roots of a hard-working and self-determined family, and end up down-on-your luck, and you get temporary assistance to get yourself back to self-sufficiency, then the likelihood is that you would be appreciative and thankful, but your motivations to achieve and retain personal self sufficiency would not have been corrupted.

      However, if you are prone to a victim mentality, laziness and/or making mistakes in life and find yourself consistently down on your luck, but you manage to scrape by only from the handout from government, you will likely never develop into a self-sufficient human… and your kids will learn that this is what life is supposed to be.

      It simply cannot be that difficult to understand how a mitigation of the consequences resulting from so much laziness and so many mistakes from the availability of so much free help from the government corrupts the spirit of self determination.  A very small minority of people are able to rise above that mostly because they had been lucky enough to be born with certain gifts.

      1. Davis Progressive

        “What I am referring to is the corrupting influence of so many hand-outs.  ”

        conservatives have bought into the reagan welfare queen argument when they should really consider the more pernicious impact of drugs which are used to self-medicate depression and other untreated mental illnesses.

        the other problem with your argument is your failure to account for the impact of your policies on innocent children who are right now being severely neglected.  the long term costs to treat and incarcerate said children are far more than dealing with the issues up front.

        1. DavisBurns

          DP, well said.  I would add that ‘Welfare Queens’ was code for black single mothers on welfare.  Reagan’s war on welfare was understood by their constituents to signal they were on the white side, and poor whites were okay because it was those welfare queens they wanted to deny support. And it worked so well it is stilled used to justify vilifying the poor because they are poor.

          The war on drugs is another weapon to use against the poor to hand out harsher sentences to people of color and fill the for profit jails with people from whom the private sector can otherwise not make a profit.

  19. MrsW

    What I liked about how this post started, with the idea that “it takes a Village to raise a child” was being discussed and Wolk was starting to get at, what role the City could play.  Not to replace parents or schools, but augment them.  There are a number of things that can be done, that don’t require going into peoples homes or unenforceable rules.  For example, a visionary leader in our past, gave us a gift by having parks and schools share some resources.

  20. Anon

    Life can be very complicated, and goes far beyond a liberal or conservative bent.  Many women find themselves divorced with several children to raise alone (women are usually the ones awarded custody of the children, despite encouragement by courts for co-parenting).  A few women left with children to raise alone are educated enough to obtain a good job or already have one.  But many need to get training to get into the job market, or are getting into the job market at entry level and low pay.  However, these women are expected to not only hold down a full time job, but raise children too.  Often the father does not contribute to raising the children; nor contribute financially to care for his children because child support enforcement in this country is abysmal.  I don’t want this to sound like I am male-bashing, but the reality is with the breakdown of the family unit, more and more mothers are unexpectedly raising children alone and in poverty, and not necessarily as a result of any fault of their own.


    the majority of single mothers in the United States are separated, divorced or widowed; and they work more hours and yet have higher poverty rates than single mothers in other high-income countries.”

    Secondly, in so far as I am aware, the federal gov’t controls what is in school lunches.  If there is any way the local school district or the city in which it is located can improve the nutritional value of school lunches, it should be done.

    1. wdf1

      Anon:  Secondly, in so far as I am aware, the federal gov’t controls what is in school lunches.


      They provide funding for it, but local districts can supplement what’s provided.

      Anon: If there is any way the local school district or the city in which it is located can improve the nutritional value of school lunches, it should be done.

      In DJUSD the district has included supplemental funding for school lunches to improve nutrition for the local school parcel tax.  Part of the program involved students growing some vegetables that can be included as part of the school lunch menu.  At the time there was some very derisive criticism from one or two commenters here of that part of the school parcel tax.


    2. Don Shor

      For the most part, poverty is not a permanent or long-term condition.
      People tend to focus on the extremes rather than the realities.

      According to the report, poverty can be a persistent condition: among the 33 million people who were poor at the start of the period — January and February 2004 — 23 percent remained poor throughout the next 34 months.

      However, many people did escape poverty: 12 million, or 42 percent, who were poor in the 2004 calendar year were not in poverty in 2006.

      As some moved out of poverty, others moved into it. About 10 million who were not in poverty (4 percent) in 2004 slipped into poverty by 2006.

      Other highlights include:

      For those who were in poverty for two or more consecutive months from 2004 to 2006, the median length of a poverty spell was 4.5 months. Almost half of such spells ended within four months while about 12 percent lasted more than 24 months.
      More than half of those who did exit poverty continued to have income that was not significantly above the poverty level (less than 150 percent of the poverty threshold).
      Children younger than 18 tended to stay poor longer than working-age adults (ages 18-64): the median length of their poverty spells was 5.2 months, while for those 18 to 64, the median was 4.2 months. Older adults (65 and older) had the longest stays in poverty of any age group: a median spell of 6.7 months.
      People in female-led families had longer median poverty spells than those in married-couple families.

      1. Frankly

        And let’s not forget about the explosion in disability payments to individuals.  Another way the lazy can create a good life living off the soft money of government.  And for all of them that are public sector workers, the cost hit is double since a new hire would be needed.

  21. Dave Hart

    It is absolutely appropriate that the city be part of creating the conditions that for life for all citizens, including most importantly, children.  That is why suppressing smoking where children live is in my understanding the most important of any the initiatives the city might consider.  Smoking is so bad for public health on so many levels that it shouldn’t require any discussion.  Unfortunately, the public relations people at the tobacco companies have convinced a small but vocal minority that cigarette smoking is somehow a “right” that should not be abridged by any regulation.  Fortunately, tobacco companies continue to lose that argument, but not fast enough.  Banning cigarettes in multi-unit housing is a no-brainer.  I have just realized that the cigarette smoke that used to waft into my backyard has been absent for several years now in the eleven houses that border ours on the sides or across the street.  One can sit outside and not be assailed by the stench of cigarette smoke.  Life can be quite good if we set the conditions for it.

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