Lawmaker Wants Poor Kids to Sweep Floors for Their School Lunch

Say What!? 83

school lunchAaaaaaand 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?


Image via USDAgov/Flickr


food, kid health


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Sarah... SarahHall58

Why don't they offer that to the parent instead? Not the children. It's not the children's fault they can't afford lunch. It's the parents.

ZacsA... ZacsAuntie

This it total bull shit! If we had to "work off " our lunch when Iwas in school there wouldn't have been much for anyone to do and there would have been no janitor job. Because I'd say 85% if not more of my 900 plus kid pre-k thru 8th grade school was on free lunch. Because of this program I got breakfast and lunch everyday. I don't know if I would have gone hungry with out it but that's only because
I know my parents chose between things like having gas (to heat the house) and buying food and food always won out. And before anyone say's anything about my parents and why they were not working. My dad worked 50plus hours in a kitchen a week and my mother tended bar 4 to 5 nights a week and we still struggled.

ZacsA... ZacsAuntie

Sarah no, not really.

miche... micheledo

My husband worked in the school cafeteria to help put himself through private school. A bit different, but I don't think it is a big deal . It's only a big deal because we have become accustomed to not working for things.

ZacsA... ZacsAuntie

Really Micheldo? Your husband worked in his private schools cafe when he was in pre-k because that is what this Congressman issuggesting. When your in high school ( yes I'm assuming here correct me if I'm wrong)and paying off your high tuition at a school you don't need but want to go to is completely different and should even be compared to feeding small children.

Rando... Randomlady

Sarah that was by far one of the dumbest comments I could have read. Did you ever think that maybe some of the parents or parent if single parent household, do you really think they are trying to make their kid go hungry? What about the parents who work overtime and do everything they can to pay for a roof over their child's head, enough money to send them to school with clothes, shoes and whatever else might be needed? Do you think they should be punished for working as hard as they can and still not quite making it? Or if they are disabled and working off what little they get from social security. It's a tough world we live in, not everyone has time to be punished for all they can do for their children.

nrouette nrouette

I just realized that we have a 2 week Christmas break looming while reading this! This story just breaks my heart.

nonmember avatar Jlw1403

Of course he is Republican (natch, as you so eloquently put it). A liberal Dem would never dream of making anyone work for anything.

work4... work4mickey

I don't know what the threshold is in Georgia, but here in California it is too lenient. There are families that genuinely need free lunches, but many that Qualify, don't. Before anyone accuses me of not knowing what I'm talking about, my son gets free lunch, but we could easily afford to pay for his lunch, or make it to send with him. We were completely honest on the application (which was required to have him get lunch at school, even if we paid for it). Also, the term struggling is thrown around so much, it has become meaningless. I have friends who are "struggling" who won't even consider giving up their precious cable or internet. That's like $100 a month. Only a little less than my monthly grocery budget. But as to whether kids should work for their lunch, no. I get the lesson that this politician is trying to impart, that nothing is free and everything must be earned, but at 5 I don't think the lesson would stick. I would like the idea of making parents work, but individual family situations are too different for a blanket policy of such.

gabe05 gabe05

I like the idea of teaching kids to work for what they get, but that should be taught by parents at home, not in a school, and not for the "essentials" of life like food, water, and shelter.  I've been known to make one of my own kids skip a meal because they didn't get their chores done, because "he who does not work, does not eat," but that is not appropriate for a public school.

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