The faithful members of the Dion Knelsen booster club want to encourage everyone to vote early and often for him as the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks hockey player competes for the Lowe’s Senior Class Award.
He was in second place in the vote tally the other day, but he has a ways to go to get into first. Knelsen, a business major, is one of 10 finalists for the award.
“I have a feeling if more people were aware of this and how they can vote, Dion could garner enough votes for first place,” a member of the unofficial booster club said.
“Voting can be done by texting H5 to 74567 and also online at www.seniorclassaward.com. People can vote and text once each day.”
He has a 3.98 GPA at UAF and is an active volunteer with his church and in the community. He has been on the Chancellor’s List for five out of his first six semesters at UAF. On top of all that, he’s a good player.
Voting continues until March 16.
LUNCH TIME: About 4,000 kids in the public schools in the Fairbanks area qualify for free or lower-priced meals at school, mostly because their families don’t make much money.
A student from a household of four qualifies for reduced breakfast and lunch prices if the family income is below $51,005, while the limit is $42,347 for a household of three and $33,689 for a household of two.
A majority of the 4,000 kids come from families who are on food stamps, state assistance and are living on a lot less. Those children from the poorest families receive meals for free.
Some of the children getting reduced prices on meals are from military families, but there is a sizable difference in the way military families are treated.
Those who live on Fort Wainwright do not have to list their Base Assistance Housing as income, while the federal rules require that those who live off the post to count the BAH as income. Counting the allowance, which could be in the $1,500 per month range, many Army families off post are not eligible for the lower price for school meals.
The state House approved a resolution by Rep. Jay Ramras in February asking the federal government to change that policy.
Amy Rouse, director of nutrition services at the district, said that during her 17 years in school food services she’s learned that school lunch programs are expected to break even, relying on federal money and meal sales.
“One thing has never changed and that is the expectation of self-sufficiency,” she said.
“Many school districts expect the nutrition services department to generate enough revenue to cover expenses. Over the years this has become increasingly difficult,” she testified Wednesday.
The federal government provides about $4 for each of the free meals given to low-income students, while it provides about 40 cents for each reduced-price lunch.
Most students pay $3 for lunch in elementary schools and $3.25 in secondary schools. Those who qualify for reduced-price meals pay 40 cents for lunch.
This year, with growing costs and reduced income, the Fairbanks program might face up to a $300,000 shortfall, although she said it could be trimmed during the next few months.
In February, she testified in favor of Senate Bill 213, introduced by Anchorage Sen. Bill Wielechowski to provide direct state funding to help pay for school meals. The state would pay 35 cents for each breakfast and 15 cents for each lunch.
“These meals are nutritionally well-balanced and provide our students with a wide variety of fresh produce and whole grain items,” she said, adding that putting more fresh vegetables and fresh fruit into meals is pushing prices up as well.
“Simply put, school nutrition programs are running out of funds,” she said.