I’m Not A Fan Of School Breakfast & Lunch Programs

Now President Bush, being a “compassionate conservative” — as if conservatism needs a modifier — would NEVER go for what I’m about to suggest. As a matter of fact, I don’t know of a single politician who supports the position I’m about to advocate. Heck, off the top of my head I don’t even know of a conservative pundit who supports it although I’m sure there are some. Yes, I am against the school breakfast and lunch program.

I was prompted to write this after reading about what’s going on in New York City

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said Friday, starting immediately, there will now be free breakfast for the city’s more than 1.1 million students.

Klein said any student, regardless of need, can show up early on any school day for a healthy breakfast.

However, there will be a slight hike in school lunch prices for children not eligible for reduced-price lunch. The price will rise from $1 to $1.50.

It’s all part of an effort by the Department of Education to encourage eligible families to apply for the school meal program.”

First off, there is no need for a school lunch program in the United States of America. Nobody starves to death in this country, not even the homeless. So whether these kids get free food at school or not, they are going to be able to ultimately get enough to eat one way or another.

“Yeah, but John, but John there are poor people out there who might not be able to get enough food for their kids. What about them, do you want them to go hungry? Huh? Huh?” No, but where do you draw the line? We’re giving them free breakfast, and free lunch — should we have the school pack them a dinner too? Clothes are pretty important, should the schools be giving out a clothing allowance? My grandmother once told me that there were kids back in her day who had long hair, because they couldn’t afford haircuts. Should they set up barbershops at school? What if these kids have parents without healthcare? Should the schools set-up hospital wings just in case some of the students need long-term care? Where do we draw the line? Where does this end?

“Oh come on Hawkins, what’s it hurting to give these kids free food?” Wait a second, aren’t we constantly being told that teachers are being underpaid and that they have to buy their own supplies? Well how many trapper keepers and sheets of notebook paper can you buy with what it costs to give 1.1 million kids free breakfast every school day? How about instead of giving those kids free breakfast, we save the money and pay out bonuses to teachers whose kids have excellent test scores? When these kids grow-up, I think they’ll appreciate being informed, educated, citizens more than the extra Cheerios.

Even if you don’t want to get rid of the school lunch and breakfast program, we should at least make the kids work to earn the food. Let the older kids spend some time beating out erasers, sweeping the hallways, or doing something else to pay for their food. Even the little kids could at least — I don’t know — make macaroni pictures dedicated to the US taxpayers who are paying for the free pizza they’re getting at lunch. Let them learn that there is no “free lunch” or “free breakfast” for that matter and that you should have to work for everything you get. Even that would be preferable to putting these kids on the dole and teaching them that the world owes them free food…

***Update***: There are a lot of links to this one and predictably, most of them are demagoguing my position and saying some variation of “that’s mean”. But being the open-minded, Bushlike, compassionate conservative that I am, I have learned from what they’ve had to say.

Therefore, I’d like to announce that I now support the school breakfast and lunch program, for all kids, just as they’re doing during breakfasts in New York. Sure that means the children of billionaires are going to be getting free breakfast too, but we can’t take the risk that any child might go hungry. After all, there still are people in America, most of whom seem to be posting at A Small Victory (how they can afford computers, but not food for their kids is beyond me), who believe that everyone else has a responsibility to pay for their kid’s food.

But I do still have one problem with free school lunches and breakfasts for all children and that is: it simply doesn’t go far enough. After all, shouldn’t these kids be eating 3 meals a day? How can we as responsible people who care about the children live with ourselves knowing these kids don’t eat a good dinner? So we’ll need to start handing out food as these kids go out the doors every day.

Then there’s the week-end — do we not often ask these kids to do homework over the week-ends? How can we ask them to learn when they’re obviously fasting every week-end because their parents can’t afford to feed them? What sort of people would we be if we let these kids go two days without food? So how can we call ourselves “caring people” if we don’t feed these kids on the week-ends as well?

Then — to our eternal shame — there’s the summer “vacation”. We should call it the summer “starvation”. Oh the horror, the tragedy, the shame we Americans should feel that we send these kids on summer vacation knowing that their parents aren’t going to feed them. Then after a long vacation, with no school breakfasts, no school lunches, these kids come back to school — the ones who live that long without starving — with ribs poking out, some of them crawling because they’re too weak from hunger to stand, so they can get their free food. Oh wait, that doesn’t happen, does it? During the summer, the kids somehow get fed without the school doing it, don’t they?

But this is no time for cold-hearted, cruel, logic; it’s a time for, caring, loving, fuzzyheaded demands that we do it FOR THE CHILDREN! So I appeal to hard hearts out there, to people like Michele Catalano & Allison Kaplan Sommer, can’t we have taxpayer supported food sent out to all the children for dinner, week-ends, and summer — for the kids? Sure, we might have to get rid of a few — well actually a lot — of teachers to pay for it, but isn’t it worth it to make sure no child in America is ever at risk of going hungry? What do you mean no? What are you, some sort of sick, cruel, twisted character from an Oliver Twist novel who thinks children should spend their days living off of half a cup of gruel while they toil away in the acid mines? HMMM — is that what you’re saying? Oh — you’re for it now? Good…

Now about clothes, some kids can’t afford nice clothes and they need them to go to school. After all, they can’t go to school naked, can they? Is that what you want? A bunch of poor kids going to school naked? What are you, some sort of sick, cruel, twisted character from an Oliver Twist novel? You’re not? Great, that’s why we want you to support our “free clothes for kids” initiative, etc, etc, etc….

I think you get the point…

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