The U.S. government pays for 100 percent of these meals. But school districts — among the few groups allowed to access this program directly — often waste their chance to keep students fed and healthy throughout the year.
By now it’s a truism that ill-nourished children are less docile, less teachable. That’s why the federal government bankrolls both breakfast and lunch for students in need during the school year. Commendably, HISD is taking the job further: This year it will offer free breakfast to its entire 208,000 student body.
Yet some school districts — HISD is one — cut off these same youngsters when summer school ends. It’s fairly simple to switch from their own kitchens to contract vendors, or transfer their federal contracts to other nonprofits, as San Antonio schools do. But most Harris County schools just lock the door.
That not only turns away federal tax dollars that could be returned to the community. It also saps opportunities to make neighborhoods safer. “Kids don’t just need to be fed; if their parents are working they need someplace to go where they are safe and supervised,” Hagert said. “If a nonprofit with a budget of $1,000 for summer has to buy summer meals, it limits how much it can spend on other activities.”
The editorialists helpfully point out that the U.S. government pays for the meals, as if the money just grows on trees in Washington D.C., and it’s therefore free money. Hello! It’s OUR money! Taxpayers’ hard-earned money! And this taxpayer gets a little peeved that other parents out there are unwilling to feed their children, so the government uses my money to do it!
Recall the inability of many Katrina evacuees to do for themselves. They just wait for their government handouts. The Chronicle‘s editorial board is encouraging a whole new generation of people who expect government to do everything for them, including provide food.
I’m going to repeat myself: At Walmart, a loaf of bread costs $.60, a jar of peanut butter costs $1.70, a jar of jam costs $1.50, and a bag of fruit costs less than a couple of dollars. There are parents out there having kids who can’t afford that, for a week’s worth of lunches? Come on!
But on top of all this stupidity, the oh-so-enlightened editorial board is upset because HISD’s program has ended two weeks before school starts. Do they think parents won’t feed their children for two weeks? And if this two-week gap is that critical, why doesn’t the Chronicle help facilitate a two-week feeding program? (Because they aren’t do-ers, that’s why.)
The thinking that goes on in that boardroom is absolutely mind-boggling.