The Washington Post reports on indications of a 2020 Census undercount, a situation many advocacy groups had warned about in the lead up to the Census that could lead to communities losing political representation and federal funding: “A day after the government released the first results from the 2020 Census, some states and civic organizations were reeling from unexpected results, and wondered if the differences between projections and actual data might be an indicator of problems with the count. Among the surprises were lower-than-expected population counts in Texas, Florida, and Arizona, which led to those states ending up with fewer House representatives than projected. And D.C., which had been projected to surpass the 700,000 population line, failed to hit that mark, growing by 14.6 percent instead of 18.4 percent over the past decade. Decennial census data is used to determine the apportionment of House seats, redistricting and $1.5 trillion a year in federal funding, so the release of its data is always closely scrutinized. But this time, perhaps more than ever, the count faced unprecedented hurdles. They included underfunding, attempts by the Trump administration to add a citizenship question and exclude undocumented immigrants from apportionment, the coronavirus pandemic, and natural disasters that struck just before the count ended… Vargas said that given all the obstacles the decennial count faced, “it’s too much of a coincidence for me for them to report that this is the lowest growth," he said. “It’s too many coincidences to not look at these numbers with some healthy skepticism.”
In the New York Times, Linda Villarosa returns to the Chicago neighborhood where her family once lived to explore how disinvestment and policies that divided and drained communities of color have driven health inequities. “Over this past year, Black lives have been cut even shorter by Covid-19, which strikes marginalized communities disproportionately, creeping into the fault lines of our society. Black Americans have been hospitalized with Covid-19 at nearly three times the rate of white Americans, and the death rate is twice as high. The deaths have taken a toll: In the first six months of the pandemic, the average life span of an American declined by a full year: from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.8 years in the first half of 2020. But Black life expectancy plummeted more, declining by nearly three years in the same time frame. One in 379 Black Chicagoans have died due to Covid-19. In Englewood’s 60621 ZIP code, 1 in 363 people have died due to Covid, compared with 1 in 2,162 people in Streeterville’s 60611 ZIP code. That same Streeterville ZIP code had one of the highest Covid vaccination rates in the city, with 42.6 percent of residents having received a full series and 60.7 percent one dose by late April. Englewood’s 60621 ZIP code had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the city, with 14.2 percent having received a full series and only 22.1 percent at least one dose. But long before the pandemic, the story of Chicago’s yawning disparity between Black and white life spans was written through my own family history. How did a Promised Land to generations of Black families become a community of lost lives?... “The neighborhoods that we’re talking about are the way they are largely because of social and public policies that really so destroyed many cities, and particularly Black and brown neighborhoods,” said Dr. Helene Gayle, a physician who spent 20 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is now the president and C.E.O. of the Chicago Community Trust, a philanthropic community organization focused on addressing the racial and ethnic wealth gap. “These are not about choices,” Gayle continued. “These are about the reality of options that people have in their lives or don’t have in their lives and how our own federal policies actually created a lot of the conditions that people now are faced with.””
EdSource reports on the USDA’s decision to extend free meals for all students through the 2021-2022 school year: “Meal service waivers such as the “Seamless Summer Option,” which made it possible for California districts to distribute millions of grab-and-go meals to students since campuses closed due to Covid-19, will be extended through June 2022, according to a USDA news release. Advocates say the extension comes at a pivotal time for food-insecure families. “At a time when millions of families continue to face financial strain, hunger and hardship, these waivers allow schools to reach more kids with the food they need,” said Lisa Davis, senior vice president of national child hunger organization Share Our Strength. “With them, schools are able to cut through red tape and allow kids to eat for free.” In addition to the flexibility of not having to check students’ income eligibility for free meals, districts are able to set up flexible meal times based on student schedules and needs. Districts can also serve meals to students outside normal school hours and deliver meals to students’ homes or other places instead of requiring them to pick up food at schools.