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School Officials Reach Out to Hungry Students


Many of the thousands of students heading back to school across Central Florida are classified as ‘food insecure’. In Orange County, officials are reaching out to those students on the first day of school to make sure they have enough to eat. Last year, 65% of Orange County students qualified to receive free or reduced cost school meals. That’s more than 100,000 students. Orange County Public Schools senior director of food and nutrition services, Lora Gilbert, says even as the economy improves, the number of kids who are food insecure keeps going up. “We had about 57%  about 3 years ago, so it’s definitely trending up,” says Gilbert. “It’s very troubling. We do a lot of focus groups with students who …
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Central Florida News

Regional Unemployment Continues Climb, Now 6.3 Percent


Metro Orlando’s unemployment rate continues to climb.  Today’s report from the state shows it was 6.3 percent in July, up from 5.9 the previous month. That means it’s now higher than the national and state rate of 6.2 percent. Central Florida’s unemployment rate has been rising since April when it was 5.4 percent, but it’s now a full point lower than a year ago.  Today’s report also shows the total numbers of jobs in Florida is down from last month but up from July 2013. See the full report at http://lmsresources.labormarketinfo.com/library/press/release.pdf  
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Fishkind Economic Commentaries

Fishkind Commentary | Checking the Math on Healthcare Costs


Recent analysis from the state shows healthcare premiums under the Affordable Care Act could rise in Florida, but White House analysis of the same data shows out-of-pocket costs could drop.  90.7 Economic Analyst Hank Fishkind sorts through the numbers with 90.7’s Amy Kiley.  He starts with the larger question, not of healthcare premiums, but of healthcare costs.  You can hear his commentaries on the Central Florida economy every Tuesday morning at 7:33.
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Recent Study Shows Florida is 3rd worst State For An Impoverished Child


A recent study by  financial services company Wallet Hub ranks Florida the 3rd worst state in the US for impoverished children. According to the study, only Mississippi and the District of Columbia were ranked worse than Florida in economic and living conditions for underprivileged children. Florida also ranked fourth worst in economic well-being and health for impoverished children. However, other states fared worse than Florida in several categories, including the percentage of children in foster care, the percentage of children in single-parent families and the rate of infant death and child food insecurity. The research was based on three main categories: economic well-being, health, education and 16 sub categories. The Children’s Defense fund says that 16.1 million children in the United states are poor  and 7.1 million are extremely poor.
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Interior of a migrant labor camp residence, photo by Amy Kiley
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Life in a Migrant Labor Camp in Central Florida


According to the state health department, about 200,000 migrant or seasonal workers help harvest crops in Florida annually. The federal government estimates they earn about $7,000 a year for a single worker or $10,000 for a family. That makes finding affordable housing difficult, and many are classified as homeless under federal law. To overcome this problem and attract needed workers, some employers build migrant labor camps. The state regulates more than 700 of them, housing about 34,000 people. Migrant laborers come to Polk County from October to May to harvest citrus, so county health inspectors are visiting camps now. 90.7’s Amy Kiley tagged along recently with inspectors Delmys Cerrato and John Cook. They toured the cramped, summer-camp-like units where workers …
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Too Late in Election Season to Redraw Maps, Legislator Says


Central Florida State Rep. Bryan Nelson says redrawing congressional districts now is the wrong approach. Lawmakers on Friday approved new maps during a special session in Tallahassee, after a judge ordered the districts redrawn. Nelson says the 2014 elections are too close. He says candidates have been campaigning for a year. He says absentee ballots already are cast, and redrawing the districts now will cost too much money. “This isn’t the way to do it. Let’s take our time, do it right and do it in 2016 and feel good about what we’ve done.” Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled two districts were drawn unlawfully to benefit Republicans. Both districts include Central Florida. The districts are represented by Republican …
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[Photo: Kenneth Wilson wants to tell other homeless youth, Don’t give up. He wants to help them improve their lives. By Taisha Henry.]
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Homeless Youth Face Unique Challenges


August 7, 2014 | WMFE, Orlando – You would never guess they’re living on the street or in shelters. Yet more than 7,000 of Central Florida’s youth are homeless. Kenneth Wilson is a 20-year-old young man who currently attends Full Sail University. Kenneth is about 5 feet 9 inches, well-dressed in a fitted polo and jeans. He seems like your ordinary college kid. You would never guess that he lives in a homeless shelter. “You know, it was my freshman year of college, and you don’t sit here and think, I’m excited I got into a homeless shelter my freshman year of college.” When Kenneth was 18 he moved to Orlando from the midwest for college. At first he stayed …
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