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free lunch: the topic that would not die

Today, Vinny posts a whole slew of information for those lazy, rotten parents who would dare accept the offer of free lunch for their children. After listing the costs of various lunch items and the sundry things that could be given up by the parents, hew writes this:

I'll tell you one thing... The case of a parent not being able to afford lunch or breakfast for a kid is pretty damned weak. If it weren't so damned easy to get, you could bet that somehow parents would do what my parents did when we were piss poor and damn near kicked out of our apartment for having trouble paying the rent: Find a way.

Yes, they would find a way. Somehow, before handouts, we found a way to provide for ourselves. You know why we don't now? Not because we're lazy. I don't believe that. Not because we don't care, I do think we care. Nope, it's because we've made it too damned easy to not provide what's necessary and still have the void filled anyway.

If kids can survive in the summer, they can survive while school is going. It's time compassion stopped being equated with handouts. All the handouts do is create a permanent underclass of people dependent on the system.

Permanent? Not here. I used the free lunch "handout" for less than a school year. Once I got back on my feet again, I took my daughter's name out of the program.

I think Vinny, and several other people who are foaming at the mouth over this, missed my one main point yesterday, so I will say it again:

I did not call the school and tell them it was their job to feed my kid. I didn't demand a free lunch. It was offered to me, just like it was offered - with guidelines and forms to fill out - to every single family with a child in the school district. I took the offer because it was there and because the money saved by not buying lunch a few days a week meant I could buy extra school supplies needed for special projects or vitamins or something better for dinner than macaroni and cheese.

It was there. I took it. I didn't demand it, I didn't assume that the school district had this responsibility to feed my daughter. Had they not offered, I would have made her peanut butter and jelly every day. But it was there and I had no idea that it was stealing or theft or whatever you people are calling it by filling out the form given to me, signing it and saying thank you very much, I would like a discounted lunch for my child.

Repeat: I did not expect the school to feed my child. In fact, I did not know about the free lunch program until a kind friend pointed it out to me. I would have made do by scrounging together a lunch for my kid, but I thought the program was there because they wanted people who needed it to use it while they had to. I didn't ask. I was given.

Vinny's examples of what one parent could give up every month in order to make their child lunch instead of begging for scraps from those better off than them is almost laughable. He assumes an awful lot by speculating that the lazy, shiftless parents of kids on the free lunch program all order WWF pay-per-views and their kids are all wearing Nike sneakers. I shopped at garage sales for my kids' clothes, Vinny. Our video entertainment did not come from Blockbuster, but from the library. Where it was free. Where your taxes paid for my free video rentals. But, hey. Everyone gets it for free there, so I guess you don't mind if a few bad parents use the library system as long as you get to use it as well.

I pay taxes. I pay a lot of taxes. State, county, school, etc. Those free lunches came out of my money, too.

Do you know what else your taxes pay for, Vinny, John, etc.? They pay for the computers in the schools. They pay for the textbooks. They pay for the playground and gym equipment and the libraries and street signs and sidewalks. They pay for the volunteer fire departments.

Which one of those services would you like to not pay for? Surely your child doesn't use every textbook the school has, so why should you pay for something your kid isn't using? Would you like to pick and choose where your tax money goes?

Again, I don't condone any free lunch system that forces kids who can afford it to pay more for their lunch in order to offset the costs. But I do condone a program that let's a parent save a little money and a kid get a good lunch in the process. You would be surprised at how many poor people there are in your neighborhood. In fact, you might be surprised at what qualifies as poor these days.

I've probably said all this before, but it bears repeating. I am so disheartened at the slurs and insults that have been hurled at those people who accept free lunch for their kids. I was not a bad parent. I was not lazy. I was not neglectful or abusive or spending my money on beer, liquor or lottery tickets.

You never know where circumstances, fate and and a myriad of other forces may lead you one day. Just know that if you ever end up in the situation I was in, I would be compassionate and empathetic. I would not stand here and insult you and assume the worst.

I don't believe that schools are responsible for raising kids. I think compassionism should only go so far. I think that, utlimately, parents should be held accountable and responsible for every aspect of their child's life and no one else should be blamed when their kid gets fat or lazy or flunks out of every subject or goes on a killing spree. I don't have some socialist view of the world.

I just know that help was offered to me once and I took it because I needed it desperately, not because it was there. I took exactly what I needed and then took no more.

And now I am just sick over the assumptions people make about me (yes, me - when you write those words about people who use the free lunch program you are writing about me just a few short years ago) because I took the help that was offered and didn't send a thank you card to every taxpayer in my town.

I am really, really disheartened at the rabid, nasty comments being thrown around about this. Walk a mile. And don't tell me about what your parents did. Walk a mile, now. In these times, with these prices and this cost of living. I'll lend you my shoes.

UPDATE: There are some people who think that the system is abused because no one checks on whether the people who are getting free or reduced lunches really "deserve" them.

For the record, I had to fill out about five forms and hand in photocopies of W2 forms and tax returns and give two references and have the damn thing notarized before they would accept my entry into the program.

UPDATE 2: Vinny has now fisked me.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference free lunch: the topic that would not die:

» TSANSTAAFL from The Waterglass
The Free Lunch War continues to rage. Think of the children. Vinny says: Just so you understand how dumb the whole thing is, here's what PBJ for a kid to eat every single day for lunch costs per month: Generic... [Read More]

» Cry me a river... from insignificant thoughts
A Small Victory: free lunch: the topic that would not die So Michele decided to single me out. Whoopdeedoo. It's the same typical shit I'm getting from Yvonne and Trish. I'm not a parent so I can't understand. Now I... [Read More]

» Bring Back the Work House from The Daily Rant
There's been a debate raging over at michele's the past few days on school lunch programs. Quite frankly, if the [Read More]

» Mystery Meat from No Prerequisite
Seems the hottest topic since religion is free lunches at school. Since I've been so busy the last few days, I've hardly been able to keep up with it. Things seemed to get started at Right Wing News, where John... [Read More]

» A Passionate Issue from Serenity Quest
There have been a lot of discussions going on across several blogs regarding the free and reduced price lunch program in the United States. Of course, lots of people have varied opinions on whether this is a good idea, and some seem to think that anyo... [Read More]

» School Breakfast Debate from Freedom Lives
There is a lot of traffic being generated about free school breakfasts that was started by John Hawkins and reacted to very strongly by Michele here and here. Michele even summarizes some of the comments from other blogs here. Today... [Read More]

» More On School Lunches... from An Unsealed Room
Poor Michele is really getting beat up over the school lunch thing. For the latest in the saga, check here and here. Some of the hate mail and comments she's been receiving sounds truly horrific: As the subject dragged on... [Read More]

» big debate from Branille's Weblog
There seems to be a lot of debate (and mudslinging) in the blogoshere lately over the free school lunch controversy in New York City. The people against the free lunches in NYC say that it is "a handout" and people... [Read More]


The point is not that people who accept the free lunch program are somehow immoral. It's the program itself and the way it's run that's immoral. Most of the free lunches wind up in the garbage, from what I've heard. No one ever checks whether those who say they qualify really do. So when you were in poverty, many of the kids getting free lunches came from split-levels with two cars and full refrigerators - and garbage cans - whose moms were just too lazy to hand out the lunch money or make sandwiches. A passel of bureaucrats make good salaries - probably too much to qualify for free school lunch - by encouraging people to get into the program. That's why they don't care who gets the lunches as long as enough people do, to justify their salaries. Oh, and the program also works as a subsidy to farmers, one of the biggest in the world. Few people would really begrudge you your children's lunch. It's the knowing and arrogant mismanagement and waste that make taxpayers' blood boil. That goes for the whole public school system, by the way. And yes, I would like to be able to pick and choose where my tax money goes, or, rather, I would like to be able to keep ninety percent of it myself. There would still be plenty for those in real need.

Hrm, let me get this right. Parents who are "finding a way" to feed their kids are getting slammed for not doing it "vinny's" way? It is statisically shown that children who do not eat lunch 1 don't pay attention in afternoon classes, 2. are lethargic, and 3. are at a better chance of doing poorly grade wise. Those free lunches are the only meal that some kids will get all day. Why punish the child for the parent's inability to feed them? You shouldn't period. Urgh...I have so much more to say on this subject but like an idiot I went and read Vinny's site and got completely pissed off. sigh I very rarely let anything like this tick me off so badly but damn, it aggravates me that this idiot and others like him think that a starving child is better than one that gets a free god damn lunch. Go figure. Nice post

I was on the "reduced lunch" program for a year or so while in high school when my dad was out of work and before I was old enough to get a job for myself (which I did the day I turned 16). It was embarrassing as all hell. But it came in pretty handy and meant a change from the usual "deviled ham" that I'd take on those days when I brought my own lunch.

And there was quite a bit of checking and form filling out to get qualified at least in those days.

My wife now teaches at a school for high risk students and I tell you, not a single one of these kids comes from "split-levels with two cars and full refrigerators" but from some fairly abject poverty out in the rural (formerly tobacco growing) counties in central VA. And these kids really appreciate their lunches. Just Monday in fact my wife came home to tell me a story of how one of the boys in her class was ecstatic over his tater tots. (In particular he'd discovered that dipping his tater tot into the grease left from his pizza slice was a real treat.)

It amazes me how "one rotton apple spoils the barrel" Just because there are some parents out there who MAY be taking advantage of the "free lunch" system, does not mean that every parent is. I cannot believe the animosity that they have while writing about how they hate the free lunch system. Yes, the system could probably be monitored better, just like every system in this country could be. Instead of them ticking and moanining about it, they need to get off their LAZY butts and do something about it. To punish children because they don't like the way the system works...let me take their lunches away for a week and see what happens to them.

Unfortunately, the only way to let this die, is to not post about it again. People who haven't worn your shoes, and have never known, in the last 5 years, the hardship many know will never understand. Yesterday, another 200 people were laid off from a GOVERNMENT facility. Yes, the jobs that you basically have to kill someone to get fired from. I promise you they'll need those lunches. They weren't lazy, they did their jobs. Oh, and get this, here, we have a SUMMER food program for the kids. It's only two years old, and available to every child, not just the ones that have only that one meal a day. I don't use the free or reduced lunches, but if I ever truly needed it for the kids, I'd be thankful it was there.

Don't let them get you down. Life has a funny way of making dogmatic dopes like Vinny take a walk in those shoes eventually.

Michele: I've worked in a school cafeteria. Yes, some "free" lunches are thrown away. But so are some that are paid for by reduced meals and some full price ones. There is also a lot of food that is thrown away straight from the kitchen. Food that is cooked and never sees the serving line, let alone a tray so someone could eat it. I would have rather given away a 100 meals instead of wasting food like that. Rules from the government and regulations from the health department said we couldn't though. Maybe if the people who don't agree with the free lunch program just thought of it as doing something useful with the food instead of taking money out of their pocket, it would help them get on with their lives.

For the record, I use free lunches for my kids. All 3 of them. When we had a mom and a dad and $40K a year, no, we didn't use them. We were happy to pay because we had went from less than $10K to $40K when the hubby found a job. Now since I'm divorced and TRYING to get child support, I'm using them again. I'm not proud of the fact, but I am also working a full time job and paying all my other bills WITHOUT any help (food stamps etc.). As for the list of things I supposedly can do without, about the only thing I saw on his list that I would have anyway is the coldcuts as a variety from freakin pb&j all damn week. By the way, since when did koolaid, potato chips, and cookies become "healthy" food. Oh wait, maybe it's when they are the cheapest food in the damn supermarket.

Thanks for letting my have my say Michele. I've been reading all week, just letting the arguments go, but this one really needed to be talked about.

As a single mother 25 years ago who never got a penny in child support for my two oldest children, I got the free school lunches. At the time I was making the grand sum total (and I admit it was 1978) of $10,200 per year. So I would have had to starve to let my kids eat. To all the taxpayers of Virginia, me included, thanks.

Vinny, circumstances in life can change in a heartbeat. I hope you never lose your job to health reasons and have to declare bankruptcy and get food stamps and welfare (a family I know has to do this because she's 8 months pregnant and no one will hire her). You may have to eat your words. A little ketchup will help.

Imperial Keeper

Amen, Michele. I'm appalled at the attitudes of people whom I once thought were smart enough to know better.

Wow, if there are any PR consultants or political advisors reading this, their head exploded long ago. That's what amazes me about the stridency and nastiness on this issue. The conservatives favoring this position don't seem to realize that [1] it's an entirely moot point as no Real Live Politician would ever be suicical enough to propose eliminating free school lunches, and therefore, [2], this becomes a completely rhetorical discussion that serves no purpose but to better define the philosophies involved, i.e., publicly define "who we are."

"Hi, we're conservatives, and we think it's better for your child to go hungry than to take a buck out of our own pocket."

There's a real "hearts and minds" position for you, one that will accomplish great things and convince the world of our ... cold hearted rigidity, or something.

Guys, check the mirror. On this issue, your zipper is way down, so wide open you are about to trip over your own schlong. By all means, do continue. It's serving your cause very well, with converts all around.

1) How many kids are really starving? The number one problem among children is obscity. I am not saying that kids should starve or diet, but is the goverment really more qualified than you to decide what your child eats? The most substantional chemical change a body recieves is from ingesting food. Do you really trust your child's health to the government (and the corporation that makes a profit on selling the food)?

2) Nobody should blame you for taking a "free lunch." But how free was it? You said it yourself that you pay your taxes. Is the money going to poor kids or rich middle-class bureaucrats?

3) Is this really necessary for the Federal Government? Shouldn't it be for the States or local governments or better yet, private charities? Wouldn't it be better to just give these people a welfare check and let them buy their own food for their children.

These are my critiques. You shouldn't feel guilty about feeding your kids "free" lunches years ago. Just simply say "I wouldn't do it again now that I have more information" and we conservatives will be satisfied. Or else state your position of why free lunches are defensable and prepare for our critiques.

Somehow Ivory had time to surf the net and post on blogs, while her kids starve. Not to be mean...but still...

I had free lunches at high school. (I grew up poor in rural South Dakota.) It was an enormous help to my family.

I am MORE than happy to have some of my taxes feed some kids at school. I think that trumps any perceived abuse of the system.

The fake outrage and outright demagoguery of Vinny and their ilk blows me away. If they are without sin, let them cast these stones, but I will lay money down that they are guilty, and somewhere throughout their lives have taken advantage of the system at some point by accepting a publicly taxed handout.

Anonymous coward - Ivory stated that she is working. Perhaps she is surfing from work? Read through, ok?

What bothers and saddens me about this whole topic is NOT people's opinions about whether or not children should get free lunches, but the ATTITUDES that keep showing up about women, especially single mothers. I've read comments like "women should keep their legs closed" all the way to using the term "welfare whores." Since when are women struggling to raise their children alone held solely responsible for their situation? Last I checked, it took a sperm to fertilize an egg to create a child, and it's been a long time since I had science class, but not too many women are capable of immaculate conception. One statement was even made that a free lunch program will be supported when women get their tubes tied. Of course, once it's pointed out that men are irresponsible and might possibly be on welfare or food stamps, the statement is changed to include men. Why are people so quick to make derogatory statements about women when a topic like this comes up? The whole thing sickens me, and all the comments made over the past few days, BY MEN, sicken me more. State your opinion without using it as an opportunity to insult women and spew your sexist views.

Trish brings up an issue I meant to address. In all the statements against free lunches, the phrase "mother" keeps coming up, as well as rants against single mothers.

What about the fathers of these kids?

Sorry, I'm coming late to the game here, but has anybody bothered to mention the benefit of the hot lunches for kids who might not be getting adequate meals at home? Students who are hungry and who aren't getting the right nutrition are not able to sit and learn in the classroom as well as those who are. If they don't learn - guess what - you're creating a whole new generation of people who aren't going to be able to earn enough to keep THEIR kids out of a free lunch or welfare program. You need to stop kvetching about having to give YOUR tax dollars to "welfare women", and look at the real situation. Not all of those kids are from single parent homes. It's a tough economy right now. If the .03 out of your paycheck possibly going to buy a kid a free or reduced price lunch REALLY bothers you THAT much, move to a country where nobody gives a crap about those less fortunate. Let me know if you need help packing.

But wait! It's a matter of national security! Surely the wingnuts can appreciate that!

"It is declared to be the policy of Congress, as a measure of national security, to safeguard the health and well-being of the Nation's children and to encourage the domestic consumption of nutritious agricultural commodities and other food, by assisting the States, through grants-in-aid and other means, in providing an adequate supply of foods and other facilities for the establishment, maintenance, operation, and expansion of nonprofit school lunch programs."

US Code Title 42, Chapter 13

This was the comment that pissed me off and shows what pricks these men are...

"I agree with Chet. Why should my taxes pay to feed a child whose mother who is too lazy too work or keep her legs closed? "

What the fuck does that comment have to do with a family/single parent using the free lunch program that is offered at school? NOTHING.

The whole thread of comments in my post really sickens me.

Well, I've been away for a few days, amazing what you can miss in just a couple days.

This is ridiculous. As a New Yorker, I certainly empathize with Vinny, et al, as far as wasted tax dollars, but the FREE LUNCH PROGRAM?!!? Come on already. How you possibly overlook the gross incompetence and corruption of state and local government, the pork spending that is like flushing money down the toilet, and shine your idiot flashlight on the free lunch program is mind boggling. I cannot fathom a less expensive program that provides a more benevolent benefit.

I mean I don't know what school lunches go for now, but when I was in school in the mid to late 80s, paying 2$ for a double entree lunch, it occurs to me that EVERYONE is having their school lunch subsidized. EVERYONE. It's just that some were getting a little more help than others.

Talk about your lame causes. And I agree that blaming this all on the mothers is ridiculous. Giving a few bucks a week for kids to get a decent lunch for a single mom seems like an honorable thing to do.

I completely understand your anger and frustration, Michele. You have every right to be pissed on this one.

The free and reduced price lunch program has been around a long time. I happened to agree with the statements that it didn't make sense to give EVERY child a free breakfast and increase the price of lunches to cover it. What upsets me is the attitudes towards women that keep popping up, and statements being made that women should "keep their legs closed" and terms like "welfare whores," etc. I did not know poverty was limited to single mother households run by promiscuous nymphomaniac whores popping out children like rabbits.

Here's what's great: Vinny, John, et. al. have lost, and will continue to lose, this argument in the public sphere. Most people don't have the attitude they do, and unless they back into the elimination of this program (i.e. through the Grover Norquist "tax cuts = starve the govt."), they will NEVER win.

I'm reasonably well off (firmly middle-class), and you know what? Please, take my tax money for this. Please, take a reasonable amount for programs (like the school lunch program) that are of benefit to folks who need a hand. Take it for Head Start, too, and other worthy programs. Who decides what's a reasonable amount, and what's worthy? Well, the voters, most of whom pretty much have the attitude I do - they'll kick someone out who seen as throwing money away rather than taking reasonable steps to help people who could use it. And sorry, but a top marginal rate of 35% means we're nowhere NEAR the point at which we're destroying our country through excessive taxation for big-govt. programs.

So, in short: fuck you, Vinny; fuck you, John. You guys have lost on this, and will continue to lose; most people are willing to support it. And, generally speaking, stop acting like such indignant pricks over something that in the great scheme of things costs us so little.

(And yes yes, I know: slippery slope, road to socialism, blah blah blah.)

I'm with you on this one, Michele. As a parent, you take every advantage you can for your children (isn't that the American way?) Anything that reduces one's costs in a certain area can be used to cover costs that might not otherwise be met somewhere else. When my father was growing up, new shoes as often as one's feet outgrew the old were a luxury. So many kids were traipsing around in overlarge or oversmall shoes (and yes, some of them did have a toe sticking out). Having food taken care of allows parents to spend money on stuff that allows their family some amount of dignity.

Part of our taxpayer dollar goes to keeping this country =civilized=. We could let everybody go it alone, have everything funded as user's fees (I don't use the highways myself, only the subway. I don't want to pay for the streets that keep all that traffic that gets in my pedestrian way). I imagine that should everything be privatized, places like NYC would be ok, where population is dense, but rural areas would be screwed. As it is, we have too much of a concentration of charities in the city compared to the poverty in rural areas (like upstate NY, where they are oerjoyed to take NYC's prisoners so that they can have jobs). We'd be going back to the time of the Depression, when my grandmother had to wear dresses made from flour sacks, and too often kids would catch hookworm from running around barefoot (as you couldn't buy them shoes). It's true that the poor in America live a lot better than the poor of other countries -- probably better than any other country -- but would we like the alternatives? India-like slums? Or would we forceably remove all the children of the poor and stick them into orphanages to ensure their well-being (that happened to my grandfather)? As it is, the =government= can't place kids in enough long-term homes. Government assistance to let kids stay with non-abusive parents is probably cheaper than sending them through the Child Protective Services route.

(Off-topic Catholic nit-picking: The Immaculate Conception refers to Mary being born without Original Sin. "Virgin birth" refers to Jesus's conception.)

The usual Leftist memes...

  • Conservatives are MEAN for questioning this policy. How dare they dissent and present logical arguments? HOW DARE THEY???
  • All tax money goes to poor kids, no bureaucrat or corporation gets their cut.
  • Since conservatives support national security it is completely logical they support welfare lunchs because of one clause in the US code.
  • No conservative has every had kids or has been poor. Or else they have and are LIARS.
  • The Fedaral Government is the only entity that can feed poor children.
  • People can't afford lunches, they have 0 dollars that could be spent on lunches and not on something else.
  • Since they use "mothers" as an example, they are sexist. Therefore we may marginalize their entire argument (poision the well).
  • If I pay taxes nobody can question a government policy.

How many of these memes are just assumed and not reasoned through? How many of above are abosolutly correct?

Sadly we have the standard liberal/emotional vs conservative/thinking argument.

I do admit that many conservatives are dicks about it, which isn't cool.

Michele, I just read Vinny's "site".


i have been watching this for a couple of days now...and i am just sick. john, vinny...the bottom line is that hungry children must be fed. period. i don't give a rip what the circumstances are---hungry children must be fed.
bravo, michele.

More of the same:

  • If a program is popular it is right and just.
  • It is logical and factual to say that cutting the welfare lunches will lead to Great Depression situations

Sorry to have to do this, but emotionalism is not a solution nor an arugement

Yep, Hungry children must be fed. There are many ways this can happen, including person to person or person to church to person charity.

There. is. no. free. lunch.

We all put money in through taxes. Why not just keep the money and pay for it yourself?

Need someone else's money? You can get quite a bit of other people's money through charity.

More charity, jobs, and cheap goods would be available with fewer taxes.

Why get indignant that we question this particular reallocation scheme?


Thank you Michele...Sorry Anon, but I don't work 24/7. Maybe you do?

I think my biggest shock is reading "well if they can afford Nike and Tommy..." Did anyone ever stop to think those clothes may not be purchased new? We don't know if the parent bought them at the store, on the $3.99 clearance rack, or for $1 at Goodwill. I had a friend's mom who would comb garage sales when we were kids for anything Izod, be it a pair of socks with the aligator marked down to $0.15. She'd take the aligator off, and sew it back on a Kmart shirt. Just so her child could feel "normal" and look like the rest of us.

I find it very interesting that the people posting the most vituperative screeds against the free school lunch program are men. As a former family law legal secretary, I saw many, many men turn themselves inside to hide "their" money from their soon to be ex-wives AND THEIR CHILDREN. Then there are guys like this: http://www.startribune.com/stories/462/4099855.html. Seems to me that these moms are doing the responsible thing by feeding their children by whatever means they can. What about the dads?

I wasn't going to weigh in on this one, simply because I have mixed feelings on school lunch programs. However, the way people are trashing you isn't fair. Here's why:

You didn't use the program as an entitlement or generational cycle. You used it AS IT'S DESIGNED! A temporary pick-me-up. THAT, quite simply, is what the system is for.

Whether it's a school lunch program or welfare or section 8 housing or whatever, the programs (like them or not...) are there to help people who are down and out. Sure, there are abuses and room for reform, but they DO work and they ARE used (such as your case) as temporary support when needed.

It's not a matter of "walking in your shoes" I hope they don't, know why? Because they wouldn't bear it out and come out ahead of the game the way you have. Fuck 'em... they are just out to slam the system because their "hard-earned" dollars get redistributed. I don't mind helping someone who needs help, as long as it doesn't become a cyclical generational thing.

Don't let 'em get you down, Mich. You did what you needed to do for your kids.

IF I had to feed my family I would. Bet on it.

Chet, are you assuming that I don't give to charity?

Summer nutrition programs are common where I live...the whole idea that kids somehow live through summer without the subsidized lunch is a myth. In most places, therer are still subsidized meals, just not at the school.

I just want to say that it was free lunches that feed me 7-12 grade. What was a single mother of four children and two full time jobs to do. Send her oldest (myself) to work cause she can't afford to give all the children the nessicities. I couldn't afford to pay for all my needs and food.I never got the "in clothing" my budget there was no way. For some families that bust their asses and still it is not enough the free lunch programs are good.
But in my day, the supervisors whould really call attention to those who had the passes-- we were to be at the end of the lines behind those who were paying-To get around that discrimination had to always have a handful of change to show.

I am proud that I can afford to pay for my child's lunches. I pay instead of making her lunch cause I know she will always eat the hot lunches instead of forgetting her sandwich in her backpack.
I tell you if finnances were bad, I would fill out the forms too. I would swallow my pride--what ever it took for the welfare of my child.
thats all.

The SIMPLE AND FAIR SOLUTION would be to give all public school children - rich or poor - the choice for a free lunch or a refund for unused meals.

But i suppose then nobody would have the vaunted "badge of shame" to bash evil rich conservatives?

The blindingly fast speed at which rational and principled thought goes flying out the window during this discussion is due to the fact that it is centered around the welfare of The Children. This is unfortunate.

I'm seeing people completely abandon their usual "government, get out of my life" positions on this just because it involves children.

Then we have the ever-popular defense of "If you ain't walked in my poor-ass shoes, then you don't have the right to an opinion--" a charming way of sticking one's fingers in one's ears and singing "la la la I can't hear you."

The fact that the kids who aren't eligible for "free" lunches have to pay a higher price to make up the difference, well, forgive me, but that's virtually the definition of Marxism in action.

But oh, look at me, pointing fingers. As far as I'm concerned, the less a public school does other than educating children, the better. Schools are already fast on their way to becoming total indoctrination brain deprogramming centers, and so my TYPICALLY CRUEL MALE RESPONSE is, "Can we please look somewhere besides public schools when it comes to putting FOOD in our kids' mouths?"

Well Geoff, those kids need to eat somehow. Where EXACTLY would you like to look?

Jesus; it's like these people haven't sat down and thought about it.

The reason it's "different" when kids are involved is because kids don't have a choice: they can't go out and get a job, choose a different path, etc. They're at the mercy of the adults around them. So, if their parents can't or won't feed them adequately and/or healthily, it does no good to punish the kids. Cutting off benefits and yelling at the parents no doubt goes over great in the comments section at Vinny's, but the upshot is that these kids, who have no choice in the matter, will be hungry, and will have a harder time learning because of it.

I for one could care less if 5% of the population thinks this is creeping Marxism and would rather the kids go hungry. Like someone else said, hungry children get fed, period.

I live in a very small town in the rural midwest.
When I look out my window, I see miles and miles of crops. My neighbors are mostly two parent families who farm as well as hold full times jobs in town.

In January thru March of this year, three National Guard reserve units from our immediate area, deployed to Iraq and Kuwait, as well as another area in our own state.(some with only 3 days readiness notice) When they deployed, they took a FULL 20% of our population with them. These reservists are principals, mayors, police officers, corrections officers,farmers, factory employees, teachers..etc.

Since they were activated during a time of war, they all qualified for the Soldiers and sailors relief act, which lowers the interest rate on things like their mortgages, car payments, etc..so they don't lose everything or have their credit destroyed while they serve their country.

Guess what..the act doesn't work as intended..the interest rates are indeed lowered, but the payments on many things aren't lowered as well.. Instead, more is going to principal, than intrest..which helps in the long run, but not in the short term while our many of our reservists earn less than half of their usual salaries.

Many of the families in my family support group are no longer able to make ends meet. Many are using some government services such as free school lunches, WIC..etc. for the first time in their lives.

These are good, upstanding people who have worked hard their entire lives..in a short term situation where they require some help.

It nauseates me to see people slam those who use these services.

In every system there will be people who abuse it, as well as those who use it because they've exhausted every other source available to them.
Many of these programs were put in place as a safety net..and that's what these families are using it for..a safety net.

I sure as hell do NOT want their everlasting "thanks" for a free lunch their child was served while at school. Instead, I owe to THEM my everlasting thanks..They are making more of a sacrifice than many of these babblers will ever dream of making.

If this means I lose my membership card in the "vast right wing conspiracy"..so be it, I don't give a damn. If kids are hungry..FEED them..I don't care what the circumstances.For that, I will gladly fork over a few of my tax dollars.

>>They're at the mercy of the adults around them.

Of course selective lunchs now means you are punishing OTHER KIDS (the ones that don't get free lunches.)

>>I for one could care less if 5% of the population thinks this is creeping Marxism and would rather the kids go hungry.

So they don't have a voice? HOW DO YOU KNOW THEY WOULD RATHER KEEP KIDS HUNGRY? Maybe they have an alternative solution (saying what you did is unfair bullshit by the way, you don't know they want kids to be hungry).

>>Like someone else said, hungry children get fed, period.

No debate, no democracy? At least we know where you stand.

That last anon post was mine BTW>

Well, my numbero uno choice shouldn't surprise you much-- the kids should look to their own parents, the people who, ahem, created and birthed them onto the planet to, you know, feed them.

To me, saying "These kids need to eat somehow... logical choice for food: public school!" borders on absurd. Why not look to the church? Or to the entertainment industry? Or to the National Stamp Collectors' Union?

Or seriously, to any of the charities (preferably non-government-funded) dedicated to feeding people in need.

Maybe, maybe this is just my anti-anything-public-school-related side rearing it's ugly head, but I have this strong, semi-undefinable sense of not wanting to let public schools do anything else for children, since they seem to be fairly piss-poor at doing even the one thing they're supposed to do for them.

>>It nauseates me to see people slam those who use these services.

You are personalizing this argument. Those against Federal lunches are also taxpayers, they also have a stake. Their arguments are against the SERVICES not you. Waving your personal "badge of shame" is misdirection and unfair, as you marginalize the others who also have a stake in this (mainly, the taxpaying public that don't recieve these serivces).

>>I sure as hell do NOT want their everlasting "thanks" for a free lunch their child was served while at school.

But you do want to flaunt your personal "Badge of shame" instead of intellegently debating the merits of school lunches.

>> If kids are hungry..FEED them..I don't care what the circumstances.

No debate, no democracy. Shameful.

Michelle - I'm not assuming anything. I'm just saying that welfare is not the answer to most of these issues, including and especially THIS ONE.

Charity is far more effective at actually helping the downtrodden, the poor, the huddled masses and all that. Government and all its inefficiencies, along with what it can and will force upon us in return, is that last entity you want to handle feeding the poor.

Again, give to charities.

"Again, give to charities."

I guess that's what I'm saying. Charities can't afford to throw away perfectly good food, whereas the government can, and does. Charities operate because they want to, not because of pressure from poor parents, or any parents for that matter. Charities are better organized, better managed, and the best part-- they have to show results, and they have to answer to the people who keep them going. Government doesn't.

I don't think any except the most committed libertarians has ever suggested eliminating the "safety net" that government provides, so to paint all conservatives with the brush of "government, get out of my life" is not completely accurate. I am generally conservative (at least fiscally), and I would like to see an overall reduction of dependence on government. However, that doesn't mean that I don't believe in programs that help people out of sudden, tight situations. I've had a few of those before, believe me... and I would never want to begrudge anyone that "safety net".

When I was a kid, my parents got divorced. My dad was a Lutheran pastor, and my mom was a housewife. She moved away to go to college, since she had no job and no degree, and therefore no way of supporting us. We (all four of us kids) lived with my father in a rural town in the midwest. My father served TWO different churches in two different towns, 50 miles away from each other. His congregations were small--usually 20-30 people on a Sunday. With only a portion of the money those 30 people gave on a Sunday, he had to pay for clothes and food for four children, plus the house payment and who knows what other expenses. I never knew it at the time, but we were quite poor. I did know, though, that we had subsidized lunches for a couple of years, because that was the only time we ate school lunches.

Of course, the situation now is much different. My mother completed her degree and now has a job in the education department of a medical school. My father found a job at a church in St. Louis, and can now afford to buy a new (used) car if he needs it. I am a college professor. None of us use any government assistance anymore, but I don't know what would have happened if we hadn't had it when we needed it.

Anybody who knows me can tell you I am not enthused with the idea of schools providing limitless services besides education. However, this is one program the benefits of which I have seen firsthand. For all you who decry taking other taxpayers' money to pay for our lunches... well, all of us are giving back now, and probably much more than we ever took out.

John S. - you are forgetting the first principle of conservatism - the government's job is to promote the public good. Giving individual people "free lunchs" at the expense of others is not serving the public good, only those individuals.

Now to be fair (and apparrently there is overwhelming support for this program and a majority of kids already on it) a no-cost lunch should be provided to EVERYBODY (or money to buy their own lunch). Just as roads and the police and fire protection and nocost textboosk serve EVERYONE (i.e. PUBLIC) so should all public school children.

Cons Lib, cry me a river: if people here didn't want debate, as you're constantly whining, then they wouldn't be debating. We're just stating a point of principle, that's all: hungry kids get fed.

As for the merits of your argument: sure, I'll concede that you don't want kids to go hungry. It's just that you vehemently oppose any measures that (a) would feed them, and (b) have any chance of being enacted. Which is WAY different from wanting them to go hungry. WAY different.

Or, you want free lunches provided to kids who have no need for them whatsoever. For the sake of fairness.

Tell me again why folks like you consistently lose this argument in the public sphere? And why, after years of whining and doomsaying about creeping socialism and appropriation of wealth, we still have programs like this?

>>Cons Lib, cry me a river: if people here didn't want debate, as you're constantly whining, then they wouldn't be debating.

Stating unflexible rhectoric isn't debate. You are assuming that this program is the only way to feed children, I dispute that assumption.

>>It's just that you vehemently oppose any measures that (a) would feed them

Untrue, all students should get a no-cost meal, as they textbooks and teaching services. I am offering a straight forward Rawslian-liberal argument about fairness, fair to all or else unfair.

>> and (b) have any chance of being enacted

Speculation, you don't know that.

>>Or, you want free lunches provided to kids who have no need for them whatsoever.

HOW DO YOU KNOW? Maybe some kids eat bread and water at home because they are too proud to fill out the forms and humiliate themselves. Maybe some parents are on the margin and their taxes go for this and not to college fund. Don't you dare try to claim you know every child's needs.

>>Tell me again why folks like you consistently lose this argument in the public sphere?

Probably because we rely on reason and logic instead of shameful emotional bandstanding and cheap calls for class warefare. You are relying on "Appeal to Popularity" a logical fallacy.

>>And why, after years of whining and doomsaying about creeping socialism and appropriation of wealth, we still have programs like this?

It is human nature to want a free lunch, which is usually not "free" for someone else. Unfortunatly the universe is not structured this way!

Waving you hand and grandly stating "let charity take care of it" about an issue like feeding kids is pure bull$hit. If these anti-government wackos were in charge, we'd all be paying $5 a mile for passage over privately owned toll roads every time we left our houses, which all had moats and drawbridges and private security forces protecting them from the hated poor. There's a name for the time period when their adored system was actually in place - The Middle Ages.

This is exactly why all the hyper-conservative yelping about student vouchers for private schools is pure nonsense. If they get their panties in a wad this tight over school lunches for public school kids, what sort of howling will they do when those same kids try to get into the schools THEIR kids go to?

Social Darwinism is a base, immoral ideology and I can only hope that its subscribers get to someday experience what it feels like when the shoe is on the other foot.

Another baseless assumption:

"Being against taxpayer paid lunches for some children is for social darwinism and Middle ages"

The parade of cliched Leftist chessnuts continues...

"...you are forgetting the first principle of conservatism - the government's job is to promote the public good. Giving individual people 'free lunchs' at the expense of others is not serving the public good, only those individuals."

That's simply false, as it ignores the copious externalities here. A number of posters have noted that a minimally-decently-fed kid is a more-alert, less-troublemaking, better-student of a kid. So school lunches do serve the public good. There are obvious benefits that radiate out from making a child a better student(benefits to the child's parents, and to the child's future employer, and to the consumers who use the products produced by the child's future employer....) And indeed there are external benefits to all the other students (and thus to their parents, and to their future employers, etc.) in making the classroom environment more productive.

Oh, and please actually read Rawls before dragging him in to a conversation.

I wonder if Conservative Liberal has spent as much time and energy on the subsidies that go to corporations to promote their products overseas, which comes out of the Federals taxes we both pay.

How about agricultural subsidies, which go many times to people who are well-to-do, not the 'poor' family farmer?

Maybe, like Newt Gingrich, he doesn't like the term 'Corporate Welfare.'

JW: You have not argued against the substence of my argument, as I am arguing that ALL children should recieve a no-cost lunch for the public good.

Selective no-cost lunches ignore copious externalities such as children whose parents do not complete the forms (because of pride, etc), children on the margin, parents who pay taxes to other parents but would have spent money on other sources of public good. If the welfare of all depends on school lunches, the goverment should provide lunches for all students.

And I despite your "psychic powers" I have read Rawls. Maybe your argument could be that depriving society the net collective satisfaction of "sticking to the rich" and smacking their misfortunes over others like a club ( while wearing their "badge of shame").

>>I wonder if Conservative Liberal has spent as much time and energy on the subsidies that go to corporations to promote their products overseas, which comes out of the Federals taxes we both pay.

Why don't you ask me? And the answer is yes.

>>How about agricultural subsidies, which go many times to people who are well-to-do, not the 'poor' family farmer?

Chop em!

>>Maybe, like Newt Gingrich, he doesn't like the term 'Corporate Welfare.'

I am against corporate welfare. Sorry to pop your bubble. I am lukewarmly but pragmatically in favor of safety nets (as long as they are fair), such as Milton Friedman's "negative income tax."

Ah, if my mind-reading powers have let me down, and you have read his work, then perhaps you should now attempt understanding Rawls. There is sufficient behavioral evidence in your comments that you have not yet done so. ;-) But let me put my ubersnarky personal invective aside for a mo....

You're basically right, that if it turned out to be most efficient to provide the free lunches to all the kids, then that's what we ought to do. E.g., from the people who have discussed their actual experiences with the program, there are very significant bureaucratic hurdles involved in getting the lunches. It may well be cheaper to fire all the bureaucrats, stop buying forms, staplers, etc., and just put all the food out there. I doubt that it is in fact cheaper, but it's a real empirical question & if it comes out in the direction you indicate, then I'll happily sign your petition to change the policy. (Note that this is not a fairness argument at all, though, but a straightforward efficiency argument.)

But in the absence of convincing evidence that matters really do fall that way, such a policy change sounds like a political impossibility, and I think a lot of folks here (including me) took you to be trying to make a reductio argument against feeding the needier students. My apologies if my misreading your argument led me to refute an argument that was not, in fact, yours.

>>My apologies if my misreading your argument led me to refute an argument that was not, in fact, yours.

Accepted. There is quite a bit of memnic distortion and an alarming amount of groupthink on this side of the spectrum on this issue.

It may be a polical impossibility, but I enjoy putting new ideas out there and challenging assumptions. I would be lying I said I wasn't also trying to push buttoms, but the intention is to get people to THINK.

"There is quite a bit of memnic distortion and an alarming amount of groupthink on this side of the spectrum on this issue."

If by "this side" you mean "all". ;-)

Ya know, those damned old people get special reduced price lunches too. Let 'em starve says I...that way I won't have to wait in line so long at the pharmacy and I'll never get caught walking behind some old bitch in a walker...they do so get in my way. tongue firmly planted in cheek

But then I guess Vinny and his ilk don't mind voting in representatives who make their own pay raises. I mean, is there any better use of our tax dollars than making the rich richer?

Or how about the gazillions of dollars the various state's dept of revenue get for enforcing child support...they enfoce nothing for people who are on welfare. it's only when women who work get on their asses that they'll move. I've seen it first hand.

There's a much bigger picture here and Vinny is wearing blinders. A shame really.

I can't speak for every "conservative" in this thread, but I oppose taxpayer-funded free meal programs.

I do not oppose free food for hungry people.

I just think that the food and money should be freely given by private citizens, not through taxpayer-funded, typically mismanaged, government mandated programs.

As long as charity is the responsibility of the government, it will continue to be abused, and the ones paying the most taxes will complain the loudest.

At first this topic was really steaming me but having visited sites of the ignorant people who claim this free/reduced lunch program is awful (from Vinnie to Geoffrey who actually says that your kids should be calling me "Daddy" every time I walk by. I'm helping to support them." [gak, gag]) that I've realized that nothing anyone will say will make an ounce of difference. But, as it's been pointed out before, things have a funny way of working out and I've no doubt that they'll all find themselves at the receiving end of one of those dreaded "hand outs".

Michele, your time is better spent on other things, not drawing attention to these asshats.

Yes, Michele. This thread should be closed and these asshats (I love that term!) ignored.

Yes, Michelle, close this thread before the truth of how silly this welfare is leaks out!