LePage’s student food veto hard to stomach

Add yet another group to Gov. Paul LePage’s war on the poor: hungry kids.

Sometime in the next few days, the Legislature will find itself staring once again at "An Act To Further Reduce Student Hunger" – a no-brainer piece of legislation passed overwhelmingly by the House and Senate last spring only to fall victim to LePage’s veto pen last month.

No surprise there: If it starts with poverty and ends with federal funds, you can bet your last silver half-dollar that the Big Guy’s going to have a problem with it.

But this veto, one of a record 187 by LePage during the current legislative biennium, is more than just a knee-jerk "nay" to the Legislature’s chorus of "ayes."

This one, since we’re on the topic of food here, is just plain nuts.

Sponsored by Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, the bill, L.D. 1353, is in essence a conversation starter for school districts across Maine where at least 50 percent of the students qualify for federally subsidized free or reduced-price lunches.

"During the school year, there are approximately 84,000 students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch," Alfond said in an interview this week. "And during the summertime, only 14,000 of those students actually have access to a summer food program … it’s a massive drop-off." [Click here to read the full column on the Portland Press Herald website]