Weekly Update- February 17

February 17, 2023

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Dear Neighbor, 

Throughout the legislative session, I will work to keep you updated on all the work I'm doing at the Capitol by sending regular eblasts and posting to my Facebook page. But, eblasts and social media aren't the only place to catch up with me!

Check out North Central News for a new regular column by me that I hope to use to maximize my ability to share information with you. 

You can also hear from me this weekend! I'll be hosting in person office hours this Saturday, February 18 from 9AM-12PM at the Ellington Farmers Market at Ellington High School. If you're planning on coming to the farmers market this weekend, or if you need an excuse to come, join me!
Did You See Me on Fox 61? 
I was excited to appear on Fox 61 last week to talk about our efforts to ensure access to free school lunches for Connecticut's students. Thanks to all my colleagues who helped make this possible! The benefits for school meals for all are strong and I'm proud to have been part of the team that made this possible.
  • Universal school meal participation is associated with increased school food service participation
  • Providing universal school meals is associated with improved student diet quality-- this is particularly true when schools and states adopt strong food, health and wellness standards
  • School meals for all is associated with improved food security in the kids who participate AND their families
  • Several studies have found that healthy school lunches are associated with academic performance
  • Some studies have found improved attendance among students who have low income with universal school meals
  • Universal school meals are not associated with negative impacts on student BMI- a common, but unsubstantiated criticism
  • There is some evidence that school food service departments have improved budgets with universal access which allows them to make improvements to the food quality and types of food and variety they can offer.

And, a shout out to an academic mentor, Dr. Schwartz who developed this infographic here. The full systematic review can be found here

Thanks to all the kids, parents, educators and advocates who helped this issue rise up in attention!

Fighting for our Students, Teachers, & Schools
It's been a busy few weeks for education issues! 

Earlier this month, the Education Committee and the Appropriations Committee held a joint public hearing to listen to testimony on HB 5003, An Act Concerning Education Funding in Connecticut. This proposal - which I strongly support - would revise the way public education is funded in the state to hopefully, provide a much more equitable system. 

Prior to the public hearing, I joined advocates and my legislative colleagues to call for support of this legislation. 

And, during the press conference and public hearing it was so exciting to see some familiar faces! I was able to spend some time with First Selectman Jason Bowza. 
And, the committees heard testimony from Vernon Public Schools and Ellington Superintendent Dr. Scott Nicol and Board of Education Chair Jen Dzen.
I began last week spending time with the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) and teachers who live and teach in the district. Lots of conversations, ideas and advocacy for our kids!
Governor Lamont's Budget Address
Last Wednesday, we listened to the Governor's Budget Address - his official announcement of his legislative proposals for the session. He will prioritize...
  • A balanced budget.
  • Tax cuts targeting middle class families, childcare affordability.
  • The manufacturing pipeline, and education reform. In his address, he stated that the best education reform is a "great teacher in a classroom, and CT has the greatest teachers."
  • School meals for all through the end of this school year.
  • Support employers offering education debt relief to keep CT trained college grads IN CT!
  • Workforce housing investments.
  • Increased commitment to the "time to own program," down payment assistance and more to middle income families.
  • Investing in reduced travel times and our transportation infrastructure - rail, roads and highway. 
  • Maximizing federal money (particularly around transportation). 
  • Energy investments, including nuclear, wind, and hydro. Plus investing in energy efficiency programs.
  • Reducing healthcare debt and costs for care, prescriptions and more.
  • Honoring fiscal guardrails!

If you missed the address, you can find a recording here

Energy and Technology Meetings and Informational Hearing 
The Energy and Technology Committee had a follow up information forum. Last time we heard from state agencies and ISO-NE, and last week we had the opportunity to hear from distribution companies, generators, and other related associations. 
During our public hearing this week, I was happy to hear from AARP on how they feel our aircraft bill will protect seniors. AARP's Senior Advocacy Director John Erlingheuser brought many AARP members, constituents and rate payers like you or I who are excited about this bill's potential.
Visits From My Constituents! 
I'm so glad when constituents come to the Hartford! I enjoyed seeing Jaimee DelPiano being so engaged in supporting UCONN. The Huskies, staff, students and alum have been out in force and I'm listening! 

If you're coming to the Capitol, reach out so I can say hi!! jaime.foster@cga.ct.gov

Congratulations to the Aborns at Roaring Brook Farm and & Dzen Brothers at Broad Brook! 
Congratulations to the Aborns at Roaring Brook Farm, Ellington who received a Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg) Farm Transition Grant for Modernizing a centennial dairy farm for energy efficiency, animal health, and a cleaner environment!

And congratulations to the Dzen Brothers at Broad Brook who received a Bed shaper, mulch and drip layer, plastic lifter, plastic and drip roller, planter with wheels and spikes, water filter and fertilizer injector, and drip tape irrigation.

I was happy to champion this budget and that DoAg received historically high funding for these grant programs in the last budget. These funds will be transformative for our Ag community. Learn more about the grants here

Windermere Project Community Forum
Bringing the Farm to School
The CT Department of Agriculture (DoAg) and UConn Extension are teaming up to offer a FREE day long workshop on Thursday, February 23 at Auer Farm in Bloomfield. This workshop will dispel the myths, expand on the opportunities and provide farmers with the resources and information to access the farm to school market. Schools will have money in the coming year specifically to purchase locally grown.

Register now by clicking here.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
This month is Teen Dating Violence Awareness, a time to spotlight the dangers and warning signs of dating violence to help protect our youth.  

Data shows 26 percent of high school students in Connecticut have experienced verbally or emotionally abusive relationships, 9 percent have experienced physical abuse, and 11 percent have experienced sexual abuse. At the same time, 82 percent of parents nationwide are not aware that teen dating violence is an issue.  

We must continue educating parents, guardians, community leaders and friends on understanding what constitutes dating violence, and what we can do to protect our young people against this kind of abuse. 58 percent of parents cannot correctly identify all the warning signs of dating violence. Please click here to learn more about dating violence early warnings.  

Healthy relationships are built on trust, independence, honesty and kindness. Teaching our youth to value and seek out healthy relationships is of paramount importance not only to their physical and emotional wellbeing, but also to their development. See here for ten signs of a healthy relationship. 

All adolescents can experience dating violence. However, young women and trans and gender non-conforming youth are at a disproportionality higher risk of experiencing this kind of abuse. Click here to access more information and resources on dating violence in LGBTQ+ relationships. 

If you believe your teen or one of their friends is in danger – help is available. Individuals and families can contact CT Safe Connect from anywhere 24 hours a day, 365 days per year to immediately receive a thorough assessment of needs, emotional support, safety planning and options. Contact them by calling or texting (888) 774-2900, send a confidential email to safeconnect@ctcadv.org or use their web chat. All services are confidential, safe, free, and voluntary.     

Find more information and useful resources on this issue below:

Interval House offers a large range of resources on teen dating violence. Resources are available in both English and Spanish.
CT.gov has a large range of resources covering teen dating violence and domestic abuse, as well as relevant legislation.
Click here to read President Joe Biden's proclamation on Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

American Heart Month
The month of February is dedicated to American Heart Month, a month-long awareness campaign in support of over 120 million Americans currently living with a cardiovascular condition, and to educate ourselves on ways we can prevent and reduce the risk of heart disease.
In the United States, heart disease contributes to 1 in 5 deaths, the leading cause of death amongst men and women.
Raising awareness of the risk factors attributed to cardiovascular conditions is an important part of the fight against heart disease and can save lives. You can find out more about risk factors here.
Understanding CPR could mean saving a life. Follow Damar Hamlin's #3forHeart CPR Challenge to learn how to perform hands-only CPR and to support the American Heart Association.
Let us share this information to ensure that friends and family understand the contributing factors to heart disease, and the ways that we can reduce our risk of developing cardiovascular conditions.
Useful Links

Live to the Beat: Campaign to reduce the risk of Cardiovascular disease among Black adults aged 35 to 54.

American Red Cross: Access to CPR training and heart disease prevention services.

Be the Beat: CPR Campaign and instructional resources on hands-only CPR.

National Heart Month: More information and resources on National Heart Month.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Learn about heart disease and stroke.


Jaime Foster
State Representative

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