« AnteriorContinuar »
Society.” I cannot believe that you gentlemen will fail in this obligation. I urge this Committee to recommend passage of the “Special Summer Lunch Program.”
Mr. BADILLO. Yes. In New York City, to take one community which I know about intimately, the Puerto Rican community. Although this program will be helpful to all groups, the Puerto Rican community in New York City is living under conditions where 50 percent of all Puerto Rican families in the city of New York today are living below the poverty level. There is no other group where such a high percentage exists.
Mr. SCHEUER. How does that compare with the Negro population of our city?
Mr. BADILLO. It is much higher than the Negro population.
Mr. BADILLO. The Puerto Rican migration to New York City is a recent migration. It began basically after the war when it was possible to come from Puerto Rico to New York by cheap air travel. Like all the other groups who came here, it takes a certain period of time before the parents can get established. I think the Puerto Rican community has progressed very fast in a few years.
Mr. SCHEUER. At a much faster pace than prior immigrants did.
Mr. BADILLO. The reality is that when a hundred percent of the people come here and are living below the poverty level it takes a certain amount of time to bring them up to the level of other groups.
We have progressed but we still are at a higher level than any other group.
I can tell you, having been born in Puerto Rico, having lived there for the first 12 years of my life, that there were many days during the school year when I didn't eat lunch at all. This is true not only of many
other children. Mr. SCHEUER. If you did have a lunch it might have been a bottle of pop or some pretzels or potato chips.
Mr. BADILLO. If there was lunch to be had it would be usually rice and beans, which is not the most nutritious meal that a child could have.
One of the reasons why the lunch is very important is because it provides the variety and nutrition that is needed, that is not given to the child either for breakfast or for dinner. So that, therefore, I consider this to be a very important program.
It should be a year-round program, as I point out here. It has been proven that the better diet, the better the physical and intellectual growth of the individual. I know that some people commented in my case on the fact that I am 6-foot 1-inch tall and there is that stereotype of the Puerto Ricans being 5 or 5 foot 4 inches. It is the diet. I came here during a period when I was still growing.
Had I come here several years later, I probably would be more of the average size of the Puerto Rican who has not had the benefit of a good diet.
Mr. SCHEUER. I remember the chairman of the Bronx County Committee made a comment along these lines, highlighted in the New York Times.
Mr. BADILLO. Yes. We know, certainly in the case of children of the Puerto Ricans who are born here it is not unusual for the father to be 5-foot 2 and the child to be over 6 feet. The school lunch program is one of the factors which has introduced a variety to the diet. I want to compliment Congressman Scheuer for introducing this legis
lation because the school lunch program is needed on a year-round basis.
It has a far greater importance, certainly, in the city of New York than probably it would in other cities where we do not have such a tremendous number of people who are living below the poverty level and where the parents do not have the advantage of knowing what really should be a properly balanced diet.
Mr. SCHEUER. That is a phenomenon of middle-income families, too, I am told, where the mother is too busy with the canasta club or bridge club and gives the kid some kind of hastily prepared meal, and the middle-income family child often lacks the nourishing meal he ought to have.
Mr. BADILLO. Yes. One kind of program that Congressman Scheuer and I are interested in is providing a service to the people of the Bronx whereby they could take advantage of some of the facilities in New York City for instruction on what is a balanced diet.
I want to add, a propos the question you asked, Congressman, about Operation Headstart, I think it would be extremely useful to bring the program down to the level of the children in Headstart.
I want to point out that both Congressman Scheuer and I have been working on carrying on an Operation Headstart program on a yearround basis which would be carried on outside of the school classroom, store fronts, and different areas of the Bronx. Operation Headstart is particularly important here because it insures that the child who comes from a family that is living at the level of poverty will have the opportunity through Operation Headstart to be at the level of the middle-income child when he goes into the first grade.
If we provide this lunch program, beginning with Operation Headstart, then we would be perhaps giving that child the first opportunity to have a lunch that is really nutritious and it will be very important in insuring that he is at the level of the middle-income child physically as well as intellectually.
So, I would like to again emphasize that here, in the city of New York, for all communities, this is an important program. It is one that I support and I am sure that all of the elected officials of the city of New York will support it as well. I want to thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you.
Mr. SCHEUER. We very much appreciate your coming.
Mr. PUCINSKI. Mr. President, I have read your statement very carefully. I want to congratulate you for the excellent research that you have put into this statement. This is one of the finest statements that we have had before this committee. It certainly highlights and calls to the attention of the Congress things that sometimes maybe even we, in our busy schedule, have a tendency to overlook.
I am particularly grateful to you for recalling for us the policy adopted in 1946 when the first National School Lunch Act was adopted in which you point out that Congress stated, “It is the policy of Congress, as a measure of national security to safeguard the health and well-being of the Nation's children," and you quite properly point out that Congress did not say for only 9 months out of the year.
The intent of Congress obviously was on a year-round basis.
Your other analysis here of the number of children that would be denied the opportunity to continue receiving proper lunchtime meals without this enabling legislation is certainly one that Congress should
be aware of. If 500,000 children in the city of New York alone would be affected, then indeed this legislation touches a tremendous number of youngsters throughout America.
I was very happy to hear you stress the fact that you want this legislation to include a child younger than 6. The author of the bill has already indicated his intention to change that language because indeed the Headstart program, and all the other programs we now have at day care centers, start at the age of 3, 32, and 4.
I can appreciate, after hearing your statement here, why Mr. Scheuer had greeted you with such high accolade before this committee. I am inclined to think that the people of the borough of the Bronx have made a magnificent choice in selecting you for their president. Your deep concern for the people, as reflected in this statement, certainly indicates the depth of your understanding of this problem.
We are very, very grateful to you. We think your statement here will go a long way toward helping us to get this legislation passed into law.
Mr. BADILLO. Thank you very much. If I may have the opportunity to testify in Washington at any other time, I will be glad to do so.
Mr. PUCINSKI. I would like to thank my colleague, Mr. Scheuer, for suggesting you as a witness. Certainly your testimony here verifies not only his good judgment but also the high caliber of leadership that your people have. We will be using much of what you
told us today, I am sure, in debate when this bill comes up before the Congress for final action.
Thank you very much.
Mr. PUCINSKI. The committee will now recess until 2 o'clock when our first witness will be Mr. Philip Sokol, vice chairman, Commission on Social Legislation, Federation of Jewish Philanthropies.
(Whereupon, at 12:15 p.m., the subcommittee recessed, to reconvene at 2 p.m. the same day.)
(The subcommittee reconvened at 2 p.m., Hon. Roman C. Pucinski, chairman of the subcommittee, presiding.)
Mr. PUCINSKI. The committee will come to order.
Our first witness this afternoon is the Honorable Philip Sokol, vice chairman of the Committee on Social Legislation, Federation of Jewish Philanthropies. Mr. Sokol, we welcome you to the committee.
, . Perhaps I can call on my colleague, Mr. Scheuer, to introduce you to the committee.
Mr. SCHEUER. I am very happy to welcome you here again, Mr. Sokol. We are very pleased and flattered that a man of your eminence has come to testify before this committee on this pending piece of legislation.
I also want to welcome your colleague, Mr. Levine, who has been a friend of mine and a colleague of mine in good fights and in good causes too innumerable to mention and over too long a period of years to mention, but I know of no one whose voice has been louder and stronger and clearer for all the good causes and all the good fights that were right over a longer period than Mickey Levine.
So, it gives me a great pleasure to welcome both of you here today.
Mr. PuCINSKI, Mr. Sokol, you have a prepared statement. You may proceed in any way you wish.
STATEMENT OF HON. PHILIP SOKOL, VICE CHAIRMAN, COM
MITTEE ON SOCIAL LEGISLATION, FEDERATION OF JEWISH PHILANTHROPIES; ACCOMPANIED BY MILTON D. LEVINE, SECRETARY
Mr. Sokol. Yes, sir. Thank you. May I say I am very gratified and happy at the warmth of this welcome that Mr. Levine and I have received. I agree fully with Mr. Scheuer in his evaluation of Mr. Levine.
I want to say at the outset that I am very happy that the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies is in a position to endorse and to support Mr. Scheuer's bill.
You have already been told that my name is Philip Sokol, and I am vice chairman of the Committee on Social Legislation of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York.
Federation's 116 constituent societies serve more than 1 million men, women, and children in its hospitals, homes for the aged, family and child care agencies, community centers, country day camps, and 41 day camps.
This afternoon our immediate concern is the welfare of New York children, and children throughout the Nation. In this area, federation's agencies include the First Hebrew Day Nursery and Neighborhood House, the Jewish Board of Guardians, the Jewish Child Care Association, the Lexington School for the Deaf, and community centers and camps in every borough of New York.
Federation's services are offered to and accepted by children of all races, all creeds, color, by the children in suburbs, and by underprivileged children who reside in the older tenement areas of the city.
Federation endorses the bill H.R. 9339 introduced by Representative James H. Scheuer, which would establish a special summer lunch program for children, to complement the regular school lunch program carried out under the National School Lunch Act.
Among the many significant social welfare laws enacted by the Congress, perhaps none has been more universally accepted than the National School Lunch Act, so I do not believe it is necessary, at this late date, to enumerate its benefits.
For many children, the school hot lunch they receive at noon may well be the only real meal for the entire day.
We know that one of the most cogent reasons for trying to keep an elementary school open, even during the most adverse weather conditions or other troublesome situations, is the concern for the children who will miss the daily school lunch.
Congressman Scheuer, who has served on the boards of several federation agencies, wisely understands that at the end of the school term comes the cessation of the lunch program, and the beginning of serious situations for these children.
His bill would continue the program during the summer vacation period for children attending public recreation centers, or public or private nonprofit day camps, neighborhood centers, or summer camps.
We favor this bill because it contains valid, intelligent principles. It continues making available, wholesome, required food for underprivileged children.
It will serve as an incentive for these youngsters of whom some 250,000 to 300,000 alone in New York City on the welfare rolls, and others in addition who might qualify to enroll in a community center, or day camp, and it could serve the purpose of taking youngsters off the dangerous hot streets and bringing them into public and philanthropic institutions where they will be under the guidance of trained group workers.
If soup and meat are the bait to reach out to these children, so much the better, for we are serving a dual purpose, nourishing them and perhaps also reaching out to guide and help them.
The bill envisions a partnership between public institutions and nonprofit agencies in order to provide the maximum facilities and resources direly needed.
Some of Federation's community centers are located in the East Bronx, the east side of Manhattan, Coney Island, Far Rockaway, East New York in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Bensonhurst, Upper East Side, Boro Park, Washington Heights, and Williamsburg.
It will be a challenge to agencies like Federation, and to the Y's, and other community organizations, to coordinate their programs, and work together with the governmental agencies in order to carry out an effective program for the youth and the child.
I know that the philanthropic organizations throughout the country will accept and meet this challenge, as they have through the years.
We offer our congratulations, cooperation and support to Congressman Scheuer, and we respectfully urge the members of the House Education and Labor Committee to support this legislation.
Mr. PUCINSKI. Thank you very much, Mr. Sokol. Mr. Scheuer?
Mr. SCHEUER. Thank you very much, Mr. Sokol, for your stimulating and thoughtful testimony. The rightness of this bill is so embarrassingly self-evident to me that the case seems to be almost an unavailable one. I have few questions to ask about your testimony since it is so clear and very much to the point. I drafted this bill as an extension of the regular school lunch program and that program covers kids from 6 to 16.
We are asking all of the witnesses whether, in their view, it would be an improvement of this bill for it to reach down below the 6-year group, to the 3's, 4's, and 5's, who are now being included in the Headstart program under the community action program, and who also are being reached more and more by the various settlement houses and social and recreational and community youth groups, who are more and more cognizant that these kids will need help in order to be able to function more effectively once they enter school at ages 5 and 6.
Do you think it would be an improvement if this bill, when it goes through the marking-up process, were restructured so that it does reach down and include the 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds?
Mr. SOKOL. In my opinion, the rightness of the principle which applies in this bill would apply with equal force and validity to the extension to children 3, 4, and 5 who might be included in the Headstart program or any other program which is set up for the care of small children, whatever that program might be.
Mr. SCHEUER. The money is available for Headstart summer programs to provide lunches, but it seems to me that when a day-care