CHERRY HILL – The school lunch debt debacle is still raging here, and no one has a good solution for the amassed $16,500 balance. An exasperated local businessman is offering to cover it, ending what’s become a national headline. Over the summer, school officials introduced – and then scrapped – its controversial “tuna-fish policy,” offering kids with an overdue balance a choice between a free tuna sandwich or nothing. The latest policy, adopted Oct. 15, lets students who owe $10 or more to order any standard meal — but no a la carte items. Meanwhile, the debt lingers. School officials say they aren’t interested in donations, the Courier Post reports, noting it’s not a real solution for struggling families, suggesting lousy, cheapskate deadbeats could also unfairly benefit. School officials now want some sort of outreach to connect qualifying families with the reduced lunch program. Meanwhile, school officials are seeking donations for a Friday Food Backpack Program to send food home over weekends for needy families. The program’s initially $25,000 grant has run out. Wanna help? Support that.

TRENTON – State leaders are also jumping in with their own solution. Cafeteria breakfasts and lunches would be free for New Jersey’s neediest public school kids if two state lawmakers get their way. Children from struggling families are already eligible for reduced-price meals in schools with federal subsidies paying the biggest portions. But, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Sen. Teresa Ruiz tell NJ101.5 that scraping up even a few bucks each week can still be tough, evident in the Cherry Hill lunch debacle. So, they’ve introduced a measure to have the state pay $4.5 million annually to close the gap, meaning students now eligible for reduced-price meals would not pay a dime for, say, their morning pancakes, fruit cup and 8-ounce milk.

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EAST RUTHERFORD – Once you get through the traffic and figure out the Blue Laws, the next challenge of an American Dream shopper will be parking. At the typical mall, parking, of course, is free. After all, why do anything, at all, to deter shoppers? But American Dream sees itself as a destination, with more than 50% of the space earmarked for attractions, like ski slopes, skating rinks, amusement parks, restaurants, etc. So, hey, why not charge for parking? NJ.com reports that parking would be free for up to 30 minutes, giving a shopper plenty of time to get to the front entrance, run back to the car and speed to the exit. But if you are looking to spend up to three hours, you will be spending $3. If you make a day of it, expect to spend $8. And if there happens to be an event going on at the Meadowlands, there will be flat “event pricing,” at $30. Hey, at least you can tailgate at the mall. Burger, anyone?

TRENTON – No matter where you stand on Gov. Phil Murphy & Co., particularly Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, they deserve heaps of kudos for lawsuits intended to stop President Donald Trump and his minions from ravaging the environment or riding roughshod over our most vulnerable communities, like undocumented immigrants and transgender people. That’s how New Jersey ended up involved in some 50 lawsuits; NJ Spotlight, of course, has details on all of them. Gov. Chris Christie, in comparison, signed on to two just legal actions against President Barack Obama, both of which, NJSpotlight says, put us on the wrong side of environmental issues.

VERNON – The world will soon know what New Jersey has known forever: You risked your life going to Action Park as a kid in the 1980s and 1990s. A feature-length documentary is coming out, called “Class Action Park,” which tells, again, the story about this amusement park that was a lawyer’s dream. There’s a terrific teaser, which called it a “lawless land, ruled by drunk teenage employees and frequented by even drunker teenage guests." The rides were experimental and illogical, and seemed to ignore even the most basic notions of physics or common sense. Let’s put it this way: There was an enclosed tube waterslide that went in a complete loop—and that wasn’t even close to the most dangerous ride at the park. Lying somewhere between Lord of the Flies and a Saw movie, Action Park is remembered as a place so insane and treacherous that, decades later, anybody who ever stepped foot in it is left wondering whether their memories could possibly be true. And then there was the park’s founder: "A genius madman who was willing to break any rule to bring his vision to life, including the creation of a fake insurance company in the Cayman Islands to circumvent insurance regulations."

IN THE MEDIA

NEW YORK – Just in time for the holidays, there’s an action doll of your favorite weatherman. Sorry, Al Roker, but CBS has unveiled a perfectly cheeky 30-second spot, which looks like one of those late 1970s commercials for the toy you just needed to have. It features a Lonnie Quinn action figure ready to tackle severe weather. The action figure features pull-string “Lonnie-isms,” like “Let’s go to the Mobile Weather Lab!” and “The storm is coming.” The figure also has rolled-up sleeves, as Quinn often does when the forecast appears severe. The doll also features his very own winter coat, umbrella and the CBS2 Mobile Weather lab. Of course, this is just marketing. The doll is not for sale. Yet.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

DURHAM, N.C. – A local bridge known as "the Can-Opener" may soon offer some relief, but not that much. For decades, this unassuming railroad bridge has spelled ruin for many a truck, thanks to a freakishly low clearance. The Can-Opener scrapes the roofs off passing trucks and RVs so frequently (sometimes more than once a week) that a nearby office worker mounted a video camera to his window, capturing hundreds of crashes and racking up millions of YouTube views. Durham's transportation department has finally had enough of being an internet joke, announcing this week that funds would be appropriated to finally raise the bridge... by a measly eight inches. (The bridge can't be raised any further because of the railroad line and the road underneath can't be lowered because of a sewer line.) It's unclear if eight inches will save any more trucks from the fate of the Can-Opener, promising many more years of hypnotic crash videos.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Beauty became eternal on this day in 1814, when plastic surgery was first introduced.

WORD OF THE DAY

Superjacent – [soo-pər-JAY-sənt] – adjective

Definition: Lying above or beyond; overlaying

Example: Suburban streets thread through my neighborhood, watched over by my superjacent castle.

WIT OF THE DAY

“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid, one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.”

― Gen. Douglas MacArthur

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“We have triumphed over evil like nobody has seen before.”

-Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Soggy

THE NEW 60
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by Andy Landorf & John Colquhoun