by Jeanne Sager
Aaaaaaand the prize for Grinchiest Grinch from Grinchville goes to .... a Senate hopeful from Georgia who has announced that he thinks life is just too easy for the poor kids of America. But don't worry! Congressman Jack Kingston has a plan to rectify that! He thinks kids who come from families with incomes so low that the qualify for free lunch should start working for their PB&J!
Yes, indeedy, there's a lawmaker (Republican, natch) suggesting putting school children to work to "earn" their free lunch. Specifically, he thinks the kids should sweep the floor of the cafeteria to earn their eats. Something tells me Joseph Stalin would have loved to meet this guy and shake his hand.
It's more than a little ironic that the Congressman made this suggestion before the holidays -- just as hundreds of thousands of kids on the free lunch plan face lengthy winter breaks. Do you know what happens to kids who get free lunch at school when there is no school? Many of them simply go hungry. Sixty-two percent of teachers say they see kids who come in to school hungry because there was not enough to eat at home.
So this Congressman is suggesting putting kids to work ... for food that makes all the difference in their life? This he begrudges small children?
According to the statistics, 47.5 percent of kids in America qualify for free or reduced lunch. There are more than 19 million kids who get to eat something at school for free or at a lower cost thanks to the USDA program.
I'm a mother and a taxpayer both, and I pack my daugther's lunch daily with foods that I pay for, and I say thank goodness someone is feeding these children. In fact, I'll gladly pay more in my taxes if it means that a hungry child has something in his stomach when he goes to math class.
In fact, I'd much rather he be in math class learning something than back in the cafeteria working off his chicken noodle soup. The classroom is where he belongs -- learning, just like his peers. The fact that his parents are in a lower income bracket isn't his fault, and it shouldn't hold him behind in school.
Because that is exactly what happens to kids who are hungry. Even if they weren't missing class time to do chores -- because when, exactly does this Congressman think kids are going to be able to swing a mop around? -- a kid who doesn't get to eat lunch every day is also going to have a hard time concentrating in school. Don't you struggle when your stomach is growling? The same goes for hungry kids.
If you think long and hard about it, hunger makes kids fall behind in school, which makes it harder for them to get into college, which makes it harder for them to get good jobs, which makes it more likely they will turn to the government for assistance at some point.
And isn't government assistance what this Congressman is so concerned about in the first place?
Maybe instead of trying to take things from kids, he should be thinking about giving kids more ... because the better start they get in life, they better they will be able to make that life once they're adults.
How do you feel about the free and reduced lunch program? Should kids have to work for their meals at school?