I really must be feeling controversial this week because guess what? I'm going to "go there." We should eliminate the free and reduced lunch program. There is no call for it to exist at all.
Now, you might be saying that food stamps aren't generous enough to feed children properly, and I might agree with you. You might also say that more people should be able to receive food stamps, and that the allowance each month ought be higher. I might agree with that, too. But that is a different argument than whether we ought be serving school lunches.
But I think within reasonable limits, families ought to be able to purchase food for themselves on this program. Not to be too stereotypical, but generally your German folks do eat differently than the folks in the black community. One of my relatives was placed in a majority-black nursing home and she really was unable to eat many of the strange foods presented to her each day. ("Greens" do not sound edible to me, either.) I know the nursing home did the best job they could on their budget, but my point remains. Different families have different tastes; some of them are personal, and some cultural.
I think families should be able to use their food stamp money to PACK a lunch for their own children. I think the food stamp amount and the qualifications for receiving this benefit are A DIFFERENT ISSUE ENTIRELY than the "school lunch" issue.
There should be no "school lunches" provided by tax dollars. Just either have food stamps and budget that meal in, or don't. I don't want families to feel forced to send their children to the local school so they can eat! For crying out loud. Schools are for learning. "Go to school or don't eat" shouldn't be the choices.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard the argument that "nice" families like mine will make sure our children eat, or if we were on food stamps, we'd use the money "correctly." But there are too many children whose parents would not, and so the school must feed them. The only two nutritious meals these precious children might get all day and blah blah blah etc.
I'm reallllly not for state interference in private lives but know what? If that's the case, if you teachers TRULY KNOW that these children are that abused at home that their parents don't stinkin' well FEED THEM, you'd better dang well pick up that phone and make a call to social services. Don't give me (or the other taxpayers!) a bunch of claptrap about working parents, limited budgets and what-have-you. Certainly you would call if I sent my children to school with no clothes, no matter how "poor" I am. Not feeding your child on a regular basis is child abuse, folks.
I submit to you that both Republicans and Democrats (and libertarians, communists, atheists, Presbyterians and other assorteds) care very much about children and what becomes of them. The nasty comments on both sides of the school lunch funding issue are a bit over the top.
Maybe I am naive, but I think parents can figure out how to pack a lunch. Get a bread bag or lunch box. Put in juice box, sandwich, small fruit or other snack. The end. Um, Elf could figure this out when he was SIX. Please don't tell me you think poor people are so stupid that they can't figure that out as well.
What we're really discussing is whether the government should decide what schoolchildren eat. They need QUALITY food, not cookies, right? There you go. So... by that logic, it's best to increase taxes on lower-middle-class people like me who are sending their children to school each day with a PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH so that the poor kids get the organically grown carrots and chicken on wheat bread.
That gets me mad.
Yes, I am notorious for sending PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES EVERY DAY for my children who attend school. And the kids who are teasing my children about this food "choice?" Are on "free" breakfasts that cost $2.00 and "free" lunches that cost $2.50 each day, per child. I can't afford this food for my own children, but I'm paying for theirs.
Mad, I tell you.