Should schools provide free lunches for students? | The Tylt
Should schools provide free lunches for students?
Providing all students with a free lunch is not a radical idea. Schools already provide free or reduced lunch to many students, but this process requires applications, deadlines, and bureaucratic paper work. When parents run up debt on the lunches, schools often have to go through debt collection to notify parents of late fees—adding even more administrative work. It quickly becomes a mess.
Without CEP, schools must collect applications and determine many low-income students' individual eligibility for free- or reduced-price meals based on family income. (In most states, the threshold for a family of four is $44,955 for reduced-price meals and $31,590 for free meals). That puts a considerable administrative burden on high-poverty schools, which may have to chase down applications and partial payments from thousands of children. On top of that, advocates say, restricting school breakfast to the poorest kids stigmatizes the meal.
Student advocates say giving free lunch as the default would remove the bureaucracy and ensure students don't go hungry. "Lunch-shaming" would stop being an issue and we can be sure that no child goes hungry. Jeff Lew, the father raising money to erase lunch debt in Washington state, says the very least we can do is help each other:
“It’s important to pay off these debts because we need to help each other and help one another in a time of need,” Lew said. “Regardless of the reason for what these parents are going through, I want to give back. These are families I don’t know, these are kids I don’t know, but I want to fight for them.”
Critics say a completely free lunch program is an inefficient use of taxpayer's money. Reducing the stigma of a free lunch is not a good enough reason to waste hard-earned taxpayer money. Critics say those who are able to pay for lunch, should pay, and the government should help those in need. The wealthy and middle class don't need taxpayer support when they can pay for it.
Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize welfare benefits for middle-class and wealthy families. Usually, when welfare benefits are going to those who are not in need, this draws serious concern over mismanagement of taxpayer dollars. Just because the federal government has given its blessing to handing out free meals regardless of need doesn’t change the fact that this is still waste and abuse.
Parents are the ones responsible for feeding a child. It's not the government's role to take care of children. Parents should step up and make sure their children are fed. That's their primary responsibility.
Feeding a child is the fundamental duty of a parent. If it’s true, as Gunlock writes (and evidence supports), that “the federal school lunch program has evolved into a program serving not only poor children, but children whose parents, for whatever reason, have decided not to prepare a home-packed meal for their school-bound child,” then the federal government must filter the truly needy from the rest who seem to be simply lazy.