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Hunger striker gives up hope for school meals bill

Lisa Demer

JUNEAU -- An Anchorage man who started a hunger strike Feb. 7 to force a vote on a school meals bill ended his fast Monday evening after giving up hope for a vote.

Kokayi Nosakhere, 37, ate some chicken noodle soup at Southeast Waffle Company in Auke Bay, north of Juneau, he said in a prepared statement Tuesday.

He had lost 41 pounds as of Feb. 29. Efforts to reach him directly were unsuccessful. In a brief phone call on Monday afternoon, he said he was on day 28 of his hunger strike. Then his cell phone cut out.

Nosakhere was trying to focus attention on Senate Bill 3, which would for the first time put state money into the federal school breakfast and lunch program.

The bill passed the Senate last year and has been holed in the House Finance Committee ever since. House Finance Co-chairman Bill Stoltze of Chugiak, says he wants to enhance school meals a different way, by providing state money to school districts for Alaska grown produce or seafood.

On Monday, Stoltze, a Republican, said he didn't plan to hear Senate Bill 3 but hopes to set aside $3 million for an Alaska food fund benefiting schools. That's even more than the $2 million advocates were seeking to expand the existing meals program, though at least one school expert questioned whether a comprehensive meals program could be derived from Alaska-produced food.

Nosakhere -- who had earlier vowed not to eat until the measure was voted on, the session ended or he died -- said he tried to appeal to Stoltze's humanity, and failed.

"I need to recover. I've fought dizzy spells, body chills, fatigue and emotional stress for almost a month. I need to rest a little before taking on another project," Nosakhere said in his statement.

Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer@adn.com or 257-4390.


By LISA DEMER
Anchorage Daily News
Contact Lisa Demer at LDemer@adn.com or on