Is the School Lunch Program really necessary?


How can kids only be hungry on school days?

I have a lot of trouble figuring out the school lunch program. The idea, I think, is to feed school children whose parents don't have enough money to buy them food, right? So the school lunch program provides heavily subsidized lunches to those families.

So far, so good.

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But what about weekends? Do the children go hungry on the weekends, and then start eating again on weekdays?

And what about weeklong vacations during the course of the school year? And what about the two and a half months children are on vacation in the summer? There's no school lunches then.

Have you ever heard of children dying of malnutrition during the summer break? I haven't.

Have you ever heard of children returning from summer break emaciated, at the point of starvation? I haven't.

And yet they haven't been eating school lunches for over two months. This indicates to me that subsidized school lunches may not be necessary.

According to the federal government, the federal school lunch program pays nearly $9 billion a year, and of that $9 billion, $1.5 billion is spent "improperly". If this is what the government is admitting, then I'll bet the "improper" payment figure is much higher.

Poor people get food from many sources. There is food stamps. There are many federal and state and local programs that supplement food stamps. And there are charities that give out food, often several sources within one community that a poor person can go to.

I think we should

1) Eliminate subsidized school lunches in their entirety. Either a child is hungry, or a child isn't hungry. It makes no sense that a child is only hungry during school days.

2) Create one source of food subsidy, that covers entire families, for their entire need throughout the year, not just when school is in session.

3) Heavily audit these families to make sure they are in need. Check bank and credit card records. Hire collection agencies to investigate food stamp recipients and give them a finder's fee when they find cheaters. The investigation system will quickly pay for itself as cheaters are removed from the system. Also make unannounced home visits and simply count the number of sophisticated electrical devices in the home. Homes with X-Boxes and big screen TV's and Iphones and Ipads should not be eligible for food stamps; families should be required to sell nonessential electronics in order to receive aid.

If these things were done, the amount of resources we would spend to feed the hungry would be radically reduced, but it would be money well spent. And it might even make a little sense, as opposed to our current system that only assumes child hunger on school days.

Why hasn't any Republican ever spoken out about this? They're afraid to be called insensitive. Their fear keeps these ridiculous programs in place.

(Abridged version originally published in AT)



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