What is Presidents Day?

Presidents Day has come to an end, and with it the amazing sales and shopping sprees that are associated with the three-day weekend. In a generation where knowledge is so easily accessed, it seems rather sad that the true reason for the day is little known. Many assume the day is to commemorate America’s presidents, but the tradition was initially founded in honor of the United States’ patriarch, President George Washington, on his birthday, February 20th. In fact, though the day is known as Presidents Day, or President’s Day, it is officially known as Washington’s Birthday.

President Rutherford B. Hayes signed the law for the federal holiday in 1879, and only federal workers of the District of Columbia were affected. In 1885, the holiday was extended to federal workers in thirty-eight states by President Grover Cleveland.

A century later, according to Congressional Record, the holiday was moved to the third Monday in February. The change came in order to reduce governmental employee absenteeism, as well as to provide citizens with more family time and increase industrial and commercial production. The same move was made for Columbus, Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

As for the name of the Day, the change was suggested by Representative Robert McClory, who believed the holiday should commemorate both Washington and President Abraham Lincoln. The opposition to the Presidents Day amendment took the form of William Moore McCulloch, who claimed it “would be unwise. Certainly, not all Presidents are held in the same high esteem as the Father of our Country. There are many who are not inclined to pay their respects to certain Presidents.”

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Though today the holiday is known as Presidents Day, the amendment to the bill actually fell short of the required votes, and the name was not officially changed. Still, federal holidays only affect the District of Columbia and the Federal Government, and so the individual states have since decided their own legal holidays.

States including California, Texas, Alaska, Massachusetts and others celebrate President’s Day in honor of both Washington and Lincoln, while others commemorate Washington’s birthday alone.


Expanding School Dinners

Obama’s Law

At the end of 2010, President Barack Obama enacted the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act to ensure there is adequate federal funding to ensure all kids who qualify receive their free after-school dinner program.  Prior to this, only 13 states in the District of Columbia were privy to this.  Today, districts have started developing dinner programs in states that are able to provide them and those states in which funding was available previously but were unaware of this privilege.

More School Dinners

Due to additional funding, this year, the Kansas City School District was able to expand its school meal program.  In addition, various districts – such as Memphis, Tenn., and Oakland, Calif., – also had dinner programs.  The Oakland Unified School District began a pilot program four months ago, providing after school dinners for 11 of its 101 schools. This is expected to expand to another 19 schools by the end of this academic year.  Likewise, Memphis City Schools are providing approximately 14,000 after-school meals daily. Around 84 percent of the district's 110,000 students qualify for free- or reduced price lunches as well.

School Dinner Funding

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So where is all this funding coming from for additional school dinners?   The Department of Agriculture's Child and Adult Care Food Program provides the resources which also finances day care programs for children and adults, as well as emergency shelters.

Improved Nutrition Standards

Since for some time now, there has been criticism of the meals not providing adequate nutrition for kids in school, at the end of last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) committed to new nutrition standards for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Thus meals will include: fresh produce daily; more emphasis on whole-grain foods; low-fat dairy produce and ensuring correct portion size standards are met. These new standards on nutrition mark the first major changes in over a decade-and-a-half to improve nutrition for the 32 million school children.

Mrs. Obama’s Influence?

Perhaps these new standards have to do with the influence of the President’s wife, First Lady Michelle Obama.  In June of last year, she introduced MyPlate as a core part of her campaign against obesity and as a reminder to people about the basics of a healthful diet, before they start eating.  So, perhaps not surprisingly, on January 25th, together with Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of Agriculture, the First Lady announced these new standards for school  meals that are now required by law.

Beer Lovers in UK


If you happen to be visiting the UK for an extended period of time, or, you live there, you might want to familiarize yourself with some of the best beer gardens there.  It just so happens, that one travel blog put together a list of the top 10 ones and here we will give you information on the best five ones.

Top of the list is the Square and Compass.  Situated in Dorset, this provides true British eccentricity so would be perfect for the tourist.  It has its very own fossil museum and hosts a huge variety of events including a pumpkin carving festival.  Historically, it began as a pub for local quarrymen and today still has some roughly-hewn stones that one can sit on during the summer afternoons.  There is a grassy slope that goes down to the sea and truly makes for a perfect setting for one to enjoy their homemade cider.

Others worth visiting are: The Ship (in Devon) which has an unparalleled view of bobbing boats and provides fantastic food and great beer; the Tarr Farm (in Somerset) is great for those who want to enjoy a beautiful stroll in the pub’s 40 surrounding acres.  It is placed above the River Barle and the garden is just stunning; guests can also enjoy the entire Exmoor National Park while they’re there too.

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Next on the list of great beer gardens is the Pandora Inn (Cornwall) which really has a history.  Dating back as far as the 13th century, this overlooks Restronguet Creek, a beautiful romantic spot which provides couples with the opportunity to look over the water on a floating pontoon.  Food choices include delectable fresh crab and entertainment options let diners watch the boaters as they relax.  Truly charming.

The fifth one is called the Three Horseshoes (Sussex) and dates back to the 16th Century.  Its garden is brimming with roses and other beautiful flowers.  Again this venue provides amazing views enabling its guests to enjoy long walks on sunny days.

So it appears that the UK isn’t just about bad weather and less than perfect cooking; these beer gardens prove there is a lot more in store for visitors and citizens alike to enjoy great food, beer and views.

Learning About America’s Presidents “Between the Lines”


Learning About America's Presidents "Between the Lines"

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It's fascinating to learn more about the quirks and personality traits of our American
presidents. Every letter that they send, every decision that they make, shows a bit
about their personalities. And Herbert Hoover's "One per Annum" autographed letter is
certainly no exception.
As part of the "Between the Lines" program through the Shapell Manuscript Foundation,
the Hoover letter offers insight into a quirk that the 31st President possessed. He loved to
write only typewritten letters – and shied away from handwritten ones at all costs.
As he explained in the document with the Shapell Manuscript Foundation, "I am not in
favor of holograph letters – I would not get through 1/10th of 1% of my mail that way –
moreover the typewriter spells better and leaves a record by which you can prove what
you did not say, and that is part of one's daily occupation. But the typewriter is a poor
method of conveying emotion. Therefore, this note is intended to convey more than usual
wishes of a happy and prosperous new year to you and yours."
Penned in 1937, well after the end of Hoover's time in office, the letter is a rare glimpse
of handwriting from the President. During his entire time as president, he wrote no more
than half a dozen handwritten letters. He acknowledged at one point that he wrote "one
autograph letter per annum."
Hoover explained that he favored type-written correspondences both because it saved
time, but also that he didn't want his letters sold. As he wrote to a young autograph
collector well after he finished as President, most men "don't like such trafficking in their
Certainly an interesting insight into one of America's great presidents.