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last word on school lunches

[See here and here for reference]

For all those [and this issue is spreading around like wildfire] who assume I was a bad, lazy parent for using the school's free lunch program when Natalie was young and I was very poor (and I only used the discounted program, not the full free lunch), I say this:

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.

Apparently, by engaging in this "scheme" for one part of one school year, until I no longer needed the "handout," (and the day I went full time in my job I called the district and told them to take my name off the program) that I was therefore labeling myself a socialist, a bad parent, a lazy parent or a child abuser.

Don't worry, John and Vinny and the rest of you. I'll have my kids make that macaroni art thank you card for you tonight. After all, I must be an ungrateful, selfish woman for taking the money right out of your wallet. When we are done doing that, I will tabulate just how much money I used from the school's lunch program and I will write a check to Mr. Wait A Minute from my comments so I don't suddenly find myself at the end of a lawsuit because I stole his money right from his pocket.

Of course, I won't be taking this tactic with others who are getting free lunches now that I'm financially comfortable. I have no problem with giving a kid a sandwich for lunch if it helps his parents get by while they are down and out. I also have no problem when my money goes towards gym equipment that all the kids use, desks, chairs and computers that everyone's children uses, supplies and teacher's salaries that benefit everyone.

But hey, that must be the bleeding heart liberal socialist in me.

Last word on that.

[For the record, I am not in favor of giving everyone free lunches and breakfast and raising the prices for those who can afford it. This issue, for me, was simply about the attitude some people have towards those who participate in the free or discounted lunch programs in various school districts]


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Think how barren a persons life must be to get all sideways over school lunches.

I don't mind buying some lunches for some kids and don't even have kids in school. And It looks like maybe I never will. But so what? If a kid needs a hand I don't mind. I would mind buying everyone's lunch even those who can afford to take care of their own kids. But I do not mind helping out a little when some one needs a little help.

The really great thing is that despite the mean-spirited whining, old John and the rest HAVE TO PAY ANYWAY. I'd like to see them get one-tenth as worked up over agricultural subsidies or hunt down all the pork projects attached to appropriations bills and see who's stealing THEIR MONEY....but that would require a) research; b) thought; and c) finding out that THEIR MONEY is going to people much like themselves who don't need it.

Their response is invariably "oh I'm not in favour of those either"...but they never seem to devote much ink to it. Nope, it's always some social entitlement where they can rant about "the poor" who are always living in untold luxury while smoking crack on the backs of decent taxpaying Americans.

Pathetic, really. Too bad they don't do anything about it except whine...or can't find a candidate who thinks like they do who'll get more than one or two percent of the vote.

So John thinks the kids need to work to earn their food, eh? I wonder, does he have the words "Work is life, comrade!" tattooed on his forehead?

Last time I checked, the point of a childhood is to be a child, learn what life has ahead, and then spend the next 45 years working. Why start them now? What'll we get, a bunch of jaded economists someday?

Nice. Very nice. But what else do you expect from a childless dissident who attended a boarding school?

Come on over, John. I have reserved you a nice seat in Hell, next to me and Mike Tyson.

//Helen...happily employed, and happily able to afford a computer (yes, I did read his article).

Vinny always was good at following, I think you can leave him out of this hunt completely as most of his post is simply regurgitated from Hawkins.

Jane has the right of it. Again. Mustn't upset the status quo. Quel horreur!


you know, when i was a kid, my parents didn't bring in much money, and we lived in an area that quickly got built up by rich yuppies and we became known as the "poor kids". we packed our lunches to save money, but at one point my dad got laid off from the steel mill, and was unemployed for nearly a year. i completely agree with you. the money that we saved by not buying lunch food went to buy us other things we needed to get by during that rough time.

programs like that are helpful to people in times of need, but perhaps if people are surviving on them during a child's entire school career, the parents ought to be looking at the problem. those are the parents these people should be looking to. using a program like this does not make you lazy or a bad parent by any means.

We shouldn't ever have to worry about feeding kids. Not in this country. If we have programs that help people out, they should be taken advantage of. That's what they are there for.

Michele, I don't think the argument is even worthy of a response. A wealthy society that doesn't at the very least try to insure that children have the bare minimum of food and nutrition is not a good society. I'd much rather have my tax money spent on that than any number of bloated, unnecessary pet projects.

I quote the Master, Robert A. Heinlein:

All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children. All else is surplusage, excrescence, adornment, luxury, or folly which can -- and must -- be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime function. As racial survival is the only universal morality, no other basic is possible. Attempting to formulate a "perfect society" on any foundation other than "women and children first!" is not only witless, it is automatically genocidal.

Not exactly on the subject of school lunches but still relevant.

I think the free breakfast and free lunch program is an excellent one, and I have no problem whatsoever with my tax dollars going towards ensuring that children eat while they're at school.

I just read your other posts about this topic, and agree totally. That's the purpose of federally funded programs, and some people use them for what they are intended, like you did, to get help until you're able to give back to others who need help. Some of those critics obviously don't have kids.

And I hardly ever agree with Sekimori, but damn, she sure hit the nail on the head in that last comment.

Free lunch program is among the few programs that is actually doing what it was intended to do: ensure that children get at least one nutritious meal per day. As a conservative, homeschooling and taxpaying American, put me down as one who is glad to have had her tax dollars contribute toward giving you this small hand-up. You are evidence that it was well invested.

And making little children earn their lunch? Appalling! Personally, I think it might be more beneficial to make higher income kids work for theirs because in my nearly half century of life I've noted that it is upper middle class kids who are the least appreciative of a decent education, nice clothing, and the hard work that goes into having these things. Frankly, I don't think it would hurt ALL students to have required chores at school. It might give them more pride in ownership and cut down on on vandalism and general mess making. Some of the worst pigs I ever saw were all students at a private school with mostly middle to upper middle class students.

Wow Seki...

A comment on "following" from you is like a comment on bike riding from Lance Armstrong.

I'm honored.

So if John were to be laid off and require unemployment to get by, I could expect him to return his checks with a note saying, "Please return this money to the taxpayers you stole it from?"

Ooh, Vin, you got me there. Yes, I follow the Bucs near-religiously. Damn, and I thought it was a big secret. sob

I don't blame you for taking free money, I blame the people that granted the Federal government this non-constitutional power.

At the very least this program should come from the States and local governments.

Although you may have personally received a different message, what I read sounded more a frustration over pervasive government assumption of personal responsibility. Most people do not have a problem helping out folks who have fallen on hard times, but the monolithic buracratic form of assistance assumed by government is too inefficient and indiscriminate for many people's tastes.

When the government decides it is their responsibility to feed every kid breakfast, it bothers me. For one, it absolves parents of one more responsibility. Maybe it's a little thing, but if they can get the government to take care of breakfast, maybe next they'll give them baths before sending them home, too. Secondly, I see a short step from "every kid deserves a good breakfast" to "every _____ deserves ______", i.e. an open invitation to incrementalism toward a greater reliance upon the government fulfilling our every basic need.

I've got parents already; don't need more in DC.

The lunch program was a life saver for my family when i was in elementary school. Likewise, food stamps. The net should be there and that's what it was, a safety net to get us through the rough patch.

That being said, I think it would be great if someone would start a non-profit association to raise private money for things such as school lunches and all the other "extras."


To sorta-repeat what I said in the original post on this subject ... the next time you get all bent out of shape because some bleeding-heart calls you "mean" or "uncaring", remember what you wrote here today.

Couldn't find The Master's take on free lunches?


Pretty straightforward, no? It's all over 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress'. Heinlein wasn't saying that something like a free school lunch program was bad, per se, he was saying they we should always know that it isn't really free.

The second you get people thinking that it's actually free is the point at which the solution becomes worse than the problem.

Aren't these Social Darwinists just the most loveable creatures?

Of course if they actually got to implement all their greedy, inhumane pet policies then they'd have to spend all their money on a massive police force that still wouldn't be able to protect their dimwitted a$$e$, but their tiny little brains never seem to be able to think that far ahead...

Don't worry, know the Master's take on Free Lunches, and the lack thereof, back to front. I believe everyone here has quite a good grasp on the fact that it ain't free, I think most are just irritated that its begrudged. My personal philosophy is that it shouldn't have to be legislated, but if that's what it takes to get the skinflints of the world to do their duty towards their fellow man, especially children, then so be it.

Wow! Who knew how big the socialist movement was in America?

Look, I'm all for kids getting fed, having kids of my own. But, that is not the responsibility of anyone BUT THE PARENTS!!! If people want to help them out, then that's their choice.

No one should be FORCED to help out. Because I did all the right things to get to a place where I can actually feed my kids doesn't make it right for you to make me feed your kids if you didn't take those same steps.

Encourage me to donate to a charity that seeks to help, fine. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. Force me to take responsibility for other adults' kids through my taxes - not fine. I have my own kids to take care of (and believe me that's enough). Why in hell should I be forced to take care of yours too? Take some responsibility for once and take care of your own damn kids!


There are adults with all the "responsibility" in the world who can't afford to nourish their children. Why should those children (or, for that matter, the responsible -- or at least innocent -- children of irresponsible parents) have to pay the price?

"Take some responsibility for once and take care of your own damn kids!"

Yeah! And while you're at it, pay for their own damn books. You want your kids to be literate, that's your business. I shouldn't be forced to pay for your libraries so your lazy not-spending-their-money-at-Amazon kids can read. Why the hell should I pay for their bus ride, either? You're not smart enough to live close to your school? Not my problem. My kids walk. Don't force me to pay for a bus ride when a character-building walk works just as well.

And for chrissakes, there are a hell of a lot of teachers at school who aren't busy teaching MY kids. Explain to me, again, why I should give a crap about educating YOUR children?

"Take some responsibility for once." Right.

Jack, I think you miss the point of TANSTAAFL. These lunchs are not free, of course not. Somebody always has to pay.These lunches are paid for by all of us through our taxes. Giving these children one good meal a day is worth it, IMHO. It benefits society by producing heathier adults. It is up to us, through our elected representitves, to decide if we want to pay for such programs. If you do not wish to have the money collected through taxes spent on such a program, write your congressman.

Well, I guess all of those Blue collared grunts who work 60-80 hour weeks must be evil, empty hearted conservatives who want to starve kids, as their working off the books to avoid paying taxes so they can pay their own rent and clothe their own kids. Evil people they are!

I apologize for trying to rip that sandwhich out of your poor kids mouth. I'm being selfish for trying to keep my family from going homeless a second time, and am forgetting about the "unintended consequences of my actions". All those vicsious attacks upon those who think the school funds feeding frenzy is getting out of hand are rightly deserved. We'll go back to sleeping in the car now.

Adam - just did.

RKB - There are many charitable organizations out there that will gladly help these "poor unfortunate" parents who can't/won't afford to feed their kids. These charities are funded by folks who are willing and able to give some of their hard-earned dollars to the cause. If you all feel so strongly about helping these peaople, then BY ALL MEANS, give to these charities.

Just don't force benevolence down my throat and tell ME that I now have to raise other people's kids along with my own. It's hard enough being a parent of my own kids without having to raise someone else's.

See, this is something that socialists don't get. The FEAR of not being able to feed MY kids is what motivates me to work my ass off everyday. Sure, there are other motivations, but this, my friends is the whammy - the main reason to get up and drag my ass to a job when I could very well just sit at home on the playstation while my children starve. That's the main reason I put myself through all the years of college - to have a job where I don't have to worry about those things.

It's called the game of LIFE. You put yourself in a position that would best take care of the priorities in life.

The government forcing me to raise other people's children does not help to solve the issue of motivation - on the contrary, it contributes to its demise.

Where is the line drawn on what our government can dictate when it comes to our kids? Are they now going to say that since they are feeding them, they can only eat this or they can only eat that? When do your kids now become the government's kids? Has it gotten so bad that we no longer ask parents to raise their own children - now the government will fulfill those responsibilities for them?

"For the record, I am not in favor of giving everyone free lunches and breakfast and raising the prices for those who can afford it. This issue, for me, was simply about the attitude some people have towards those who participate in the free or discounted lunch programs in various school districts"

That's all I was looking for, fwiw. Fair enough. Thanks.

How pathetic does one have to be to get all bent out of shape over the use of the free school lunch program? I always bought my lunch in school, never used the free program, but damn people, what's the alternative for the less fortunate kids, not to eat lunch in school? You know how hard that is for kids? And it's even harder to concentrate in class without food in the belly.

Woo! Take a day off reading Blogs and a firestorm breaks out.
The school lunch program? Damned shame it's needed. It would be nice if it weren't.
Some kids need it because their parents are shiftless assholes. Okay, fine. Some kids need it for a little while because of some unforseen (and sometimes unforseeable) event that stresses a family's finances. Okay, fine. Some kids need it because their parents simply had more kids than they could afford to raise. Okay, fine. Which kids should go hungry?
With all the money the Goddamn Government pisses down ratholes large and small I'll be dipped in shit if I can figure out how we get so damned excersized over a a program that actually does something. Could it be run more efficiently? Silly question, it's a government program. Still, the economy of scale makes the government the logical entity to run it. Some kids need clothes? That's where the private charities take over.
Geez. The Government is still paying for a Helium Reserve and the Navy got rid of it's last Blimps when Moby Dick was a minnow and we're arguing about the effing School Lunch Program? Why, oh why did I quit drinking?

"It's called the game of LIFE."

Life isn't a game, Chet.

"You put yourself in a position that would best take care of the priorities in life."

Yeah, and the father drops dead from a heart defect no one knew he had (this has happened even to rich, famous people); or maybe the mother gets cancer and has to quit her job and go on hugely expensive chemo and the insurance is giving her problems and won't pay; or maybe the main breadwinner in the family gets laid off or their house burns down and they lose everything or something else happens and they lose everything and find themselves living hand-to-mouth. Shit happens, Homeslice. That's why the mingy feed-the-kids programs we do have exist.

Sure, there is the potential for abuse, but these kids aren't being fed paté au foie gras, pheasant under glass, and so forth. This is school food we are talking about here. Mystery Meat and canned veggies, and one apple slice. An itty-bitty carton of milk. And so forth. Can anyone here tell me they would have preferred to be fed on the government's dime rather than brown-bag a p&j when they were kids?

You know, I'm with Jane Finch -- I'd rather most of our taxes was spent on feeding kids and other such programs than on the crap a lot of those taxes end up going to, mostly to appease lobbying groups. But confronting the tangled mess of pork, grants, and so on that exist due to congress' largess with our own money is difficult and time-consuming; it's so much easier to hit a soft target like poor people -- excuse me, use them as an example of outraged "principal." Please.

Unfortunately one of the flaws in American culture is the way poverty is treated like one of the Deadly Sins. Sometimes poverty is a result of sloth and consistently stupid moves, but at other times it is no one's fault. You might find yourself on the receiving end of society's largesse someday (we can't all win the lotto), and if that happens I wonder how you'd think of people sneering at you while you faced imminent starvation then.

Just to make one thing clear:
I'm not against feeding these children.

I'm against politicians forcing ME and other hard-working tax payers to pay for what their parents should be paying for and/or working their @sses off find a way to pay for.

I'm against the government and their ineffeciencies smothering those highly effective private charitible organizations in order to get more votes "in the name of the children!" cough

I'm against a growing welfare mentality that makes more people slaves of the government. (Especially when there are soooooo many charitable organizations out there that do the job 5000 times better than the government).

I'm against any parent who can't "afford to feed their kids." What the h&ll is up with that? What kind of parent allows a situation arise where they can't feed their kids? FIND A FRIGGING WAY!!! Just don't pick my pockets and deprive MY children of the food they deserve.

And life is a game - you just have to play to win! HINT: Laziness will not help you win.

Hrrmm... I agreed with your first post on this, Michelle.

Let's see... I'm a conservative-libertarian [whatever that has to do with it, just thought I'd toss it in because some people seem to care lol] My parents both worked two jobs when I was a kid - we went through periods where "dirt poor" was descriptive. There were some days when I had cash for buying a school lunch. There were other days when I had a decent lunch-in-a-bag and even a handful of change to slip off to the nearby 7-11 and snag some candybars.

There were other days when the school "free" lunch program made the difference between eating or a growling stomach all day - like the six months my dad couldn't work after he was hospitalised by a mugger. We kind of appreciated it.

Why the two jobs? My parents scraped to pay my way through private-parochial school for 12 years. PLUS paying taxes to support the public school system we didn't use.

shrug Doesn't bother me in the least to have a chunk of my taxes going to pay for school lunches for kids. That's one of the few things I don't mind my taxes going for.

I consider it paying back what I was given.

Chet? And random bitchers et al? You're against your taxes going for something like that, protest the hard way: stop paying taxes. You'll have a lot more money to feed your kids with without allothem freeloaders leaching offa yas. ;]

Jesus, Chet. You can't read, can you? Here, I will spell it out in simple words since longer sentences are obviously a chore: being poor is not always the result of "lazinesss." Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and they end up with no money. If this happens to you, would you like to be called "lazy"?

Get it? Probably not.

That's all good and fine. They're not lazy.

But how in hell do people get to a point where they can't afford to feed their kids? As a parent, myself, I just can't understand how anyone can allow this to happen.

And for those who wish to help the the down-trodden effectively there are CHARITIES. What the socialists don't tell you is that charities end up sufferring when INEFFICIENT government programs such as this start sucking up their donors' taxes.

You think legislation like this is "for the children?" WAKE UP!!! It ain't. It's for the POLITICIANS and their power-hungry careers.

No, I think this heartless conservative will stick with charities - the ones who actually do care about the children - to help raise other people's children.

<<That's all good and fine. They're not lazy.

But how in hell do people get to a point where they can't afford to feed their kids? As a parent, myself, I just can't understand how anyone can allow this to happen.>>

Go to work one day, nearly get killed on the job, have your benevolent employer lay you off and then fight you on worker's comp. Lose your insurance. Wind up expending your savings on medical care, and then wind up too broke to pay your bills. That's how.

Guess what, I speak from personal experience. I am now permanently disabled. We are now a one income family.

That's a hard adjustment to make, especially if you did "make all the right moves", Chet. I was a NYC lawyer. I made a hell of a lot of money. Now I am too injured to work at McDonald's (guess what, I tried working the minimum wage jobs, and was in so much pain I got fired for absenteeism), let alone practice law any more. Does that make me lazy?

You know what, I am lucky as hell, because my husband still has his job. For the moment, we are able to feed our own damn kid. But if he got laid off for any length of time, we would lose everything. The house we've been paying for for fifteen years, everything.

And at that point, if it comes, I will gladly accept help in feeding my kid. So far I haven't had to.

You seem to suffer from the delusion that it can't happen to you. I used to think so too.

You know what, I was wrong. It can. There are thousands of hard working people one pay check away from disaster, especially in this economy.

And before you make assumptions about my politics, I am a conservative republican. And one who for my working life was in the highest tax bracket, and subject to federal, state and local taxes. So my pocket got "picked" an awful lot. My husband's is still being "picked". If its paying for food or healthcare for kids, I really don't mind.


Have you seen all the news reports about how you need to research the charities because many spend the lion's share of contributions on administrative costs? They seem equally inefficient.

It is far from a perfefct world. At least some of the money is feeding kids. There are a whole lot of less useful government sinkholes for your hard earned dollars.