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January 27 2015

School Dinner Expands

Julie Gunlock

A Facebook friend posted a story praising the news that the federal government is expanding school feeding programs: 

Since the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010, more than one million students across the United States have received dinner and an after-school snack as part of an unprecedented pilot program introduced in 13 states and the District of Columbia.

The program has been received well so far. School officials in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second largest school district and one of the first participants in the U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded program, are now planning to double the number of students who receive nutritious after-school meals. The ultimate goal: to serve every student in the school district, especially those from low-income communities who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

Let's think about that “ultimate goal” for a moment. The goal isn't "to help children from low income households" but rather to "serve every student in the school district."

That statement says a lot. It's yet more proof that the goal of these programs is not to help kids eat more nutritiously (just a look at the variety of news stories detailing the absolutely disgusting food these kids are getting or just review the many pictures posted on twitter with the hashtag #thanksmichelleobama to get an eyeful of the Dickensian gruel). Rather, the goal is to further remove parents from having any say in what kids eat. The reason? Because, according to those who promote expanding the school lunch program, parents are too stupid to read nutrition labels. They're too busy. They're too tired after work. They’re too poor (this excuse always annoys me; as if poor=dumb).

But really, it's that you and me and the rest of we distracted parents are simply not trustworthy enough. I mean, you might put something that tastes good or has high calories in your kids lunch box. Or you might make your own educated decisions about what your kid needs and likes. You might want her to have what your mom made you, even if that does annoy the commandant of your kids lunch room (who can forget this North Carolina case involving a little girl's brown bag lunch being taken away in favor of chicken nuggets and fries). This guy (a doctor who specializes in nutrition) did just that, and he received a curt note back from a self-important teacher (his response was epic). Hear that? Even fathers who are doctors can't be trusted. 

But the glowing article mentioned above and many on the left view this as good news and are praising the decision. One person on my friend's FB feed explained her support, saying: "Our district has a program that sends food home over the weekends and breaks. Last year during snow days, counselors even delivered food to kids who were in dire risk of going hungry becasue school was closed."

Ummmm, talk about missing the point? Shouldn't this be identified as a massive child neglect issue? If indeed, parents are entirely failing to feed their kids on Saturdays and Sundays, shouldn't these parents be advised of the many state, local and federal food assistance programs designed to help them when school's out? And why, if indeed there is this dire need in a community, would the answer be to feed ALL (read: rich and middle class) children, not just the children who need it.

There are plenty of taxpayers that don't begrudge the government taxing them if it does indeed serve a need or goes toward a program that is well run. Sadly, that's not true with the federal school lunch program--a program overrun with problems, waste, cost overruns, mismanagement, and fraud. 

Before we expand these programs any further, is it too much to ask that the Feds fix the broken program first? And perhaps when we see stories like this, we might be a little less gleeful that we're expanding a program to feed the children of the rich, as well as the poor.



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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