Free Food, Books, & Pets - Good News This Week: March 24th 2023

A photo collage of Tim Walz celebrating with children, three women with bags and items on the floor, an open field with trees, a woman with a notebook and pen, and the Best Friends Pet Resource Center

Every day the Good Good Good team collects the best good news in the world and shares it with our community. Here are the highlights for this week!

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The Best Positive News We’re Celebrating This Week —

Minnesota’s governor just signed a universal school meals bill into law, giving free breakfast and lunch to all students

Late last week, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed a bill into law giving free breakfasts and lunches to all students in the state, regardless of household income. Minnesota is now the fourth state in the U.S. to pass universal school meals.  

The new law is similar to a temporary one that was implemented during the pandemic but expired and reverted to the previous school meals law. Under that law, only certain students qualified for free or reduced meals, but thousands still struggled to afford food.

This new law, which goes into effect during the 2023-2024 school year, is estimated to help tens of thousands of students and eliminate the crippling issue of school lunch debt.

Why is this good news? Besides the obvious (no kids going hungry or racking up debt from eating at school!), experts say this program will have a myriad of ancillary benefits, like creating a more communal, relaxed cafeteria.

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Coal demand in the U.K. reached a 266-year low in 2022

In 2022, the demand for coal in the United Kingdom fell by about 15%, bringing total demand to a 266-year low. The last time the country used so little coal (about 6.2 million metric tons) was 1757. To put that into perspective, Mozart was born in 1756.

Coal demand in the country grew exponentially during the Industrial revolution, peaking at 221 million metric tons in 1956. In the years since much of it has been replaced with other sources like natural gas and renewables.

Coal is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel but only accounts for 1.5% of electricity generation in the U.K. now — much less than solar, wind, and hydropower making up 33%.

Much of the decline in coal use is thanks to the 1956 Clean Air Act, and the country’s more recent pledge to stop using coal for electricity by October 2024.

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To address the health impacts of illiteracy, a nonprofit helps doctors distribute millions of books to children at check-ups

In 1989, Dr. Robert Needlman discovered an association between racial disadvantage, low literacy, and poor health — and realized that in order to improve his patient’s health outcomes, he needed to fight illiteracy.

So, he took action and created a nonprofit called Reach Out and Read out of the truck of his car. Its mission is to encourage literacy among young children by incorporating reading aloud into pediatric care.

He started by putting books in the waiting rooms of pediatric clinics — then bringing them into the room for a doctor’s visit. Today, they’re in 37 clinics across Northeast Ohio serving 4.2 million young children, and their books were distributed in over 36,000 well-child visits in 2021 alone.

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Super Bowl champion Malcolm Mitchell is doing incredible work to improve literacy in under-resourced communities

Malcolm Mitchell, the football player, was a star wide receiver for the Georgia Bulldogs, and went on to help the New England Patriots win Super Bowl LI. But these days, he’s Malcolm Mitchell, published author and literacy advocate.

Mitchell is currently touring around the country to promote, read, and give out copies of his new children’s book, “The Magician’s Hat.” The story, he says, is inspired by the magic he finds in picking up a book, learning something new, and then applying that knowledge to life.

Mitchell struggled to read even in college, but that all changed when he joined a book club with older women during his time in Athens. He was determined to become a better reader — and now, he’s sharing that determination with others.

​​→ Read more

Grassroots AIDS activists fought for affordable HIV treatments around the world — and they won

Over the last 20 years, the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, has revolutionized the fight against global AIDS. It’s brought antiretroviral treatment to nearly 19 million people living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS; prevented mother-to-child transmission of HIV for 2.8 million babies; and brought HIV testing and prevention services to millions of others.

The program would not be so successful — and might not even exist — without the work of grassroots AIDS activists around the world.

Over the course of more than a decade, these activists challenged the status quo to demand (and deliver!) HIV treatment to millions of poor people around the world.

Why is this good news? Today, PEPFAR is still working in over 50 countries, including in Central and South America, Southeast Asia and the former Soviet Union. Since 2003, the program has injected over $100 billion into the fight against global AIDS.

And despite stagnant funds over those years, PEPFAR has brought treatment to an increasing number of people in need thanks to the AIDS activists who fought to make generic antiretrovirals available

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Offering resources beyond adoption, a new animal shelter in Arkansas is creating a better future for both pets and pet-lovers

Like many other holistic initiatives in the animal adoption space, Best Friends Animal Society is working to change the traditional animal shelter experience to create a better future for pets and pet lovers alike.

The nonprofit has just opened the doors of its first-ever Best Friends Pet Resource Center in Bentonville, Arkansas. It’s designed to be a modern, community-oriented space with resources beyond just adoption including a veterinary clinic, volunteer programs, a pet care navigator, a pet supply pantry, and so much more.

It’s also designed without cages or kennels, instead utilizing meet-and-greet rooms, play yards, and free-roam pet housing. It will serve an estimated 13,000 dogs and cats each year.

Why is this good news? Many of the services developed at the facility were designed with pet-loving folks without access to the necessary resources to care for their animals in mind.

And ultimately, the main intent of the Pet Resource Center is to reach Best Friends’ goal of making the state of Arkansas — and the entire country — no-kill by 2025.

Read more

More good news of the week —

Lawmakers in Oregon are working to become the second state in the U.S. to include climate change education in curriculum. High school students wrote letters of support for the curriculum, too.

A startup is disrupting the harmful palm oil industry by bio-manufacturing an alternative. Palm oil is in an estimated half of consumer goods, and its production comes at a steep cost to the planet.

New Mexico's governor signed a bill ending juvenile life sentences without parole. Under the new law, people who commit a crime will be eligible for parole hearings 15 to 25 years into their sentences.

In response to increasing cruelty in their school, fifth graders in Ohio started a “kindness club.” It’s one of a number of kindness-centered clubs popping up in schools around the country, doing random acts of kindness, and generally making beautiful things happen.

A first-of-its-kind children’s museum is opening in Mumbai aimed at empowering children to build a better world. The Museum of Solutions is a child-led project built on values like making mistakes, thinking collaboratively, and sharing knowledge.

In the face of growing teacher burnout, a foundation is working to support the mental health of educators. Happy Teacher Revolution works with school leadership to improve teacher support so that they can actually be at their best for their students.

Los Angeles’ only Indigenous school is helping return land to California’s Native population. Recently it purchased 12 acres of land with the help of grants and nonprofit funding and returned it to the Gabrielino Shoshone Tribal Nation, its original inhabitants.

Walt Disney World Resort is hosting a major conference promoting LGBTQ rights in the workplace this year. Its decision to host the conference comes amidst a yearlong dispute with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over, among other things, its opposition to his “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

President Biden designated sacred tribal land as a national monument. Avi Kwa Ame is a mountainous area in Nevada that’s revered by many tribes and is home to one of the largest Joshua tree forests.

One of the last wild rivers in Europe was just declared a national park by the Albanian government. A collaboration between the government, environmental experts, and NGOs (and Patagonia!), Albania’s Vjosa River will be conserved as a living, free-flowing river, to the benefit of people and nature.

Spain just passed a new animal welfare law that imposes stricter punishments for domestic animal abuse. The country considers pets “living beings endowed with sensitivity” and no longer simply “things.”

Kansas City implemented a program that prevented hundreds of evictions by simply providing attorneys. Since launching last June, the program has been so successful, the city is now expanding it.

FIFA announced it’s committing $152 million to this year’s Women's World Cup in July, giving out equal earnings to men and women. The $110M prize purse is a 300% increase from the 2019 WWC when FIFA awarded just $30M.

An NHL team’s president of hockey operations called out players who refused to wear Pride-themed jerseys. The Pittsburgh Penguins’ Brian Burke said he wished “players would understand that the Pride sweaters are about inclusion and welcoming everybody.”

Busting the myth that women’s sports don’t provide a meaningful return, women’s March Madness is attracting record levels of investment. It’s already building on 2022’s tournament success when nearly 5 million people watched the final.

South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley partnered with Aflac to develop a strategy to help close the gap in funding for women’s athletics. And they’re super actionable: investment equity, fan experience, and community engagement.

The cast of Ted Lasso visited the White House this week to discuss the importance of talking about mental health. Mental health is a recurring theme on the soccer football-adjacent show and even featured a team therapist in season two.

Article Details

March 24, 2023 7:11 AM
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