Wednesday, July 30, 2008

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Guess! Guess how much the Federal government spent in providing lunches to public school kids in 2007. $5 million? $10 million? $50 million? $100 million. $500 million? A billion? Nope. You're not even close.

$8.7 billion.

Yup. The National School Lunch Program cost $8.7 billion in 2007. Let me repeat that for the cheap seats in the back.

$8,700,000,000.

Why? Why do my tax dollars need to buy lunch for my neighbors' kids?

And by the way, despite the massive spending of your tax dollars on this program over the years, many children continue to suffer from inadequate nutrition and, increasingly, from childhood obesity. If the goal of this government program is to improve nutrition in our nation's kids, it has failed. How about cutting out the program and spending a little money on educating and encouraging parents to feed their kids balanced nutritional meals, and making sure their kids get exercise every single day?

$8.7 billion dollars on lunch. Why?

6 comments:

abandoning eden said...

cause otherwise a whole bunch of kids wouldn't be eating nutritious food, or might not be eating lunch at all?

Seriously, where is the humanity here? Are you so cold that all you can think of is dollars, and not the impact that those dollars can make on someone's life? What type of society are we, in which we would rather people starve then do with a little less ourselves?

And how much money do we spend killing people in other countries? I'm betting it's a lot more than 8.7 billion.

WebGirl said...

Ah! And there's the rub. The thing is:

1) most of these kids do not come from low income families. They can afford to pay for lunch for their kids. They can more than afford to pay for lunch for their kids. Not all public school kids are poor. Most public school kids are not poor.

2) The program is a failure! Kids are still eating crap and not getting the proper nutrition that they need.

So why are we buying kids lunch? I mean, why not buy them dinner too! Let's just keep feeding everyone on your dime. That's right, your dime, because you are paying for it when two out of every six days that you work goes to the government.

Here's an idea. Lower taxes so people can keep more of what they make. Then they, that's right they can decide what their kids should eat for lunch and participate more in their kids' development. What a concept.

On a personal note, why did you rush to make a judgment call on my character? I don't think you are an uncharitable person; I just disagree with you on lots of things. Why would you call me uncharitable? Have I ever said anything on this blog that would imply that I wouldn't give to people who needed? Mind you, that's my personal choice, not the government mandating it. I gave $8,000 to charity in 2007. I was fortunate enough, thank God, to earn enough money to give this amount, and if I'd been able to keep more of my money and not been forced to pay 35% of it to the government, I would have given even more. I've worked for food banks, food pantries, and for "chessed stores" where people just come and take what they need. And the people that come to these places ACTUALLY NEED what they get. And because they are all privately run, they get quality, nutritional items, not government crap.

As far as what we spend "killing people in other countries" I'm not even going to get into that because it's irrelevant to this conversation. This is about the government spending an unthinkable amount of money on a failed program, providing food to children who come from families who can afford to feed them JUST FINE, and in fact, would be better off feeding them themselves.

And the fact that they are children doesn't change things at all. The overwhelming majority of these kids' families can afford their lunch without it affecting them in any material way. Why is it MY responsibility to feed them? No.

SuperRaizy said...

The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Yes, there are a lot of children in the US whose parents can barely afford to pay for school lunch. There are also lots of children whose parents can afford to pay but don't. This is because the process of applying for free lunch is ridiculously easy. All parents have to do is fill out a short form and indicate what their income is. They do not have to provide any proof at all. So many parents simply pencil in a very low income, and voila! their kids now qualify for free lunch.
If the government required documentary proof of income, then the program could save a lot of money without cutting aid to the children who really need it.

WebGirl said...

I have 6 friends who have two kids or more in public school. I'm gonna say that four out six of these friends can more than afford to send their kids to school every single solitary day of the week with a tunafish sandwich, an apple, carrot sticks and a few chocolate chip cookies. Of the two friends who I think can't afford it, one has a husband on permanent disability, and one is just pathetic at handling money.

All six of them are on this program. I spoke to each of them today and yesterday because I am really, really curious.

Here's what they said:

1) all of them said that the food that the government provides is pure garbage. All of their kids complain about it and hate eating it. Some of them still send their kids with a sandwich because they know their kids are just going to eat the school's dessert because the main dish is too gross. But as one friend said "it's better than nothing and it's free."

2) 3 out of 6 admitted to me that they are on this program because it's one less thing to worry about in the morning...making their kids lunch. They are all overwhelmed with child care.

3) Every single one of them lied about money on the application, including the one whose husband is on disability. Apparently the income requirement for this is ridiculously low. They told me that as far as they know, all of their friends lie too. The schools know and don't care. No one checks.

4) Two of them initially did not fill out the application and in both cases, the school called them and strongly encouraged them to fill it out.

These six friends live in New York, New Jersey, Denver and Los Angeles.
And I recognize that this is purely an anecdotal reckoning and not a formal study, but tell me something, is this program working? Is this program worthwhile? This is not a minor question...this is a multi-billion dollar program.

Guess what? Socialism makes EVERYONE poor. This program needs to go. It's not helping our kids...it's a failure, a waste, and a poor solution to the problem.

Isophorone said...

I am guessing that not all of these children are in the United States legally, either (or have parents who are).

Here is a web page with statistics on school lunch eligible children. Some children get partial support, and some get full:

http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2007/ruraled/tables/table1_8.asp?referrer=report

Anonymous said...

Wow. So some people abuse the system - and get lunch.
So what..

Children without good nutrition cannot learn - or grow - so school is wasted on them.
For many of the actually poor people in this country - of which there are plenty (about 20 percent of the population) these meals - and the summer meals that are provided in some cities as well - are the best meals they get. BTW - they also get breakfast, for the same reason.
If the family is poor (or incompetent) should the children suffer?
If the children do not learn and grow up to be health adults- this country is stuck with uneducated, unhealthy adults - for the next 40 to 60 years - which is a very expensive mistake.