Sharon Noguchi, writing in the San Jose Mercury News Monday edition, points up some facts that make one ask this question:
If we live in a country that requires local schools to run a free lunch program even though the kids don’t show up to eat, don’t we live in a country that’s run by well-meaning but questionably competent bureaucrats?
Here are the facts: In San Jose, the schools are under mandate to offer meals to the community, and to any youths who show up. The problem is that the meals have few takers.
Noguchi writes, for example, that at Luther Burbank School District in San Jose, about 30 students eat breakfast or lunch each day, but the school where the lunches are served has the capacity to serve 100.
Other schools in San Jose are having the same experience.
Someone in the federal government (this is a federally paid program), at some point, decided it was necessary for schools to feed kids even when school isn’t in session. Schools are in the habit of feeding kids free or almost free breakfasts and lunches during months when schools are in session. Doing this, apparently, has relieved some parents of the burden of feeding their own children.
The majority of parents apparently feed their children breakfast and lunch, making it unnecessary to send their kids to school to mooch meals there.
I grew up in a poor town, but I can’t recall a circumstance under which children expected to be fed free breakfast in the school cafeteria. Kids ate breakfast at home and either brought their own lunches, or bought lunch in the cafeteria, where the price was about 20 cents. Some of the kids paid reduced prices if their parents were financially stressed.
I don’t ever recall kids going hungry, because while their parents might have been poor, they had their priorities straight. They never would have imagined the state or federal government would take over their parental responsibilities to feed their own kids.
In San Jose, meanwhile, the school people are thinking of ways to promote the free breakfasts and lunches. Maybe it would be better to promote responsibility among some of the parents.