If they attend a school with a traditional schedule, low-income kids across the city next month will start their summer vacations and no longer get free or inexpensive lunches on campus.

It’s not a matter of availability. The federal government pays for lunches for poor kids over the summer months, offering them at places like libraries and recreation centers. But parents often don’t know about the lunches even though the San Diego school district has oddly started calling them Summer Fun Cafés.

Now, local anti-hunger advocates are pushing to find another way to make sure kids get proper nutrition when they’re not in school, as we report in a new story. But their idea — expanding the food stamp program — will be a tough sell in a Congress that’s half Republican-dominated and may be run in both houses by the GOP next year.

VOSD Radio: Changes Afoot in San Ysidro

The VOSD Radio Show and Expanded Podcast (listen here) welcomes guest Jason Wells, executive director of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce, to talk about projects  in the works in the southernmost stretches of the city of San Diego. One of the biggies: a major fix to the port of entry, otherwise known as the Border Crossing from Hell.

Other topics on the radio show and podcast include pothole repair, the Hero of the Week and a campaign that seems to have filched a slogan.

Commentary: SD’s Not the Place for Ace Under Wage Hike

In a VOSD commentary, the co-owner of the Ace Hardware store in downtown says he fears the proposed sharp hike in the minimum wage in the city will put stores like his out of business.

“My sister and I have already calculated that to go from the current $8 minimum wage to $13.09, we would have to raise our store’s prices by 20 percent,” writes Harry Schwartz. “Wages would go up as buying power goes down. This seems counterproductive.”

Schwartz is so worried that he’s called off plans to pursue opening another Ace Hardware store in the city.

The Superintendent Speaks

The U-T’s editorial board met with San Diego schools chief Superintendent Cindy Marten recently for an interview.

She talks about her plans to step up the evaluation of teachers and include perspectives from teachers and even students: “We know that when teachers get to hear immediate and direct feedback from a student and from a parent, that changes and improves their practice.”

Marten also talks about allowing schools to have more flexibility in regard to class sizes. Why allow a class to potentially be huge? Because, she said, there are reasons to allow freedom, such as when a school may want to give college-bound students an opportunity to experience learning in a lecture-hall-type environment.

And Marten explains her role: “The board sets policy. The board gets to say what they want and why they want it. I get to say how it happens, when it happens, who’s doing it. And this board respects that.”

Quick News Hits

• VOSD archives alert! Our list of the 10 most popular stories of the past week is topped by an article from February examining a searing documentary’s claims about SeaWorld’s treatment of animals.

Readers also flocked to stories about the food truck crackdown (it’s apparently bad for breweries), teachers who want to make sure rookies get sacked first and a school that succeeds despite not being too poor or too rich.

• “The recent discovery of San Diego Fairy Shrimp — an endangered, thumbnail-sized crustacean — could add up to five more months of environmental review for the proposed extension of the San Diego Trolley to La Jolla,” the U-T reports.

• A new app is out that will speak truth to driver: As you drive along I-15, it will let you know about upcoming traffic snarls so you could — well, hypothetically, at least — avoid them. KPBS has the details.

• The U-T drops by the new downtown central library and finds parking is plentiful (if not always free) and homeless people aren’t the problem that some feared. Here’s a tidbit you may not have known: “There is a full-time mental health case manager working out of the on-site New Chapter Support Center, which provides support and outreach for patrons dealing with homelessness or behavioral health issues.”

The story doesn’t point out how high the library parking rates get jacked up during Padres games. (Best to stay away those days if you’re driving). And it doesn’t point out the library’s best space: the fantastic Reading Room with its great view, comfy chairs and dependable wi-fi.

You might see me there on random summer afternoons. I’ll be the guy sternly glaring in your direction until you abandon the ottoman and leave it to me.

Still got your feet on it? This means war, madam!

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president-elect of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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