This story is excerpted from the MT Lowdown, a weekly newsletter digest containing original reporting and analysis published every Friday.
Number of meals, as defined by the Office of Public Instruction, provided to K-12 public school students through Montana’s school nutrition programs during the 2021-22 school year. According to OPI, those meals were supported by $83 million in state and federal funding and included more than 13 million lunches, 7 million breakfasts and 32,000 snacks, as well as 22,894 cartons of milk reimbursed through a federal Special Milk Program. Based on enrollment numbers, the total works out to roughly 145 meals per student, at a per-student cost of $534.70. In presenting the numbers to the Board of Public Education last week, OPI School Nutrition Program Director Chris Emerson noted that the totals represent a “dramatic increase” in the number of meals served over the previous school year — an 18% rise in breakfasts and a 26% rise in lunches. Emerson attributed the increases to the fact that under federal COVID-19 waivers, meals were served at no cost to students, a situation that ended last fall.
Nearly three months after a Montana Rail Link train derailed near Reed Point, releasing 419,000 pounds of asphalt into the Yellowstone River, state agencies began advising anglers this week not to eat any fish caught on a nearly 50-mile stretch of the river.
An emerging risk-based framework called PODs aims to improve firefighter safety, support fire-adapted communities, and get more of the right fire in the right place at the right time. Will it take hold in Montana?
Five years after the alt-weekly “Independent” shut down, Missoula has a brand-new hyperlocal news source. In this installment of The Sit-Down, co-founders Erika Fredrickson and Matt Frank reflect on the influence of the Independent, explain their financial model and take aim at a target audience that includes Missoula noobs.