SUCCESS IN school depends as much on the stomach as it does on the brain; students who are hungry for food can rarely be hungry for learning. So it is a great relief that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has decided to keep feeding Philadelphia students for free, as part of a pilot program that was threatened with extinction, first under the Bush administration, and recently by the Obama administration. The program is unique because it doesn't require permission slips or independent income documentation from students participating. Based on the high percentage of students living in poverty, it was considered more effective to provide free breakfasts and lunches to all students.

Since the Obama administration has vowed to eliminate childhood hunger by 2015, we're hoping that the threatened extinction this time around was a technical decision to disband a "pilot" program that is two decades old and applies only to Philadelphia. U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah led the push for saving the program.

The Child Nutrition Act is due for reauthorization by Congress this year; we hope that this local program is considered as a model for combating hunger, and improving schools. *