Clue #122,213 that your State Representative is way, way out of the mainstream: She writes a column explaining why providing healthy meals for poor children during summer vacation is a horrible, horrible idea.
Rep. Cythia Davis' latest outrage is Missouri’s Summer Food Service Program, which provides food during the summer for thousands of low-income Missouri children who rely on the school cafeteria for free or reduced-price meals during the regular school year. This week's newsletter from Davis contains a point-by-point response to a press release announcing the program, at the end of which she concludes the program is really "all about increasing government spending, which means an increase in taxes for us to buy more free lunches and breakfasts."
And to cap things off, she offers this very helpful tip:
Anyone under 18 can be eligible? Can't they get a job during the summer by the time they are 16? Hunger can be a positive motivator. What is wrong with the idea of getting a job so you can get better meals?
Tip: If you work for McDonald's, they will feed you for free during your break.
Like so many of Davis' arguments, her opposition to basic nutrition for kids seems is rooted in the belief that if there were really a problem or societal problem, unnamed churches would be dealing with it. And since so many churches aren't going out of their way to feed poor kids, it must not really be worth worrying about.
Here's Cynthia's full analysis:
Rep. Davis’ Commentary
Current economic woes make Summer Food Service Program more important than ever
Program provides nutritious meals to young people throughout the state
The implication suggests that during a recession, parents don’t give their children nutritious food. The reverse may be true. During hard times, many families find it even more important to pull together. Families may economize by choosing to not waste hard earned dollars on potato chips, ice cream, or Twinkies. Perhaps some families will buy more beans and chicken and less sweets.
School’s out, but the need for children to get nutritious meals doesn’t take a summer break.
Is school the only place a child can get a nutritious meal? Parents have good reason to dispute the idea that their children will not receive a nutritious meal if they are not in a government institution. Who should be the one to pass judgment on what defines a nutritious meal? I represent many fine families in District 19 and I am proud of all of them for doing what is best for their children.
With the current economic downturn, Missouri’s Summer Food Service Program will be needed more than ever this year, state health officials say.
They are using a “crisis” to create an expansion of a government program. Parents naturally love their children and enjoy caring for their children just as much as ever during an economic downturn. Most parents put their children first, even ahead of themselves no matter what. If parents are laid off, that doesn’t mean they stop feeding their children, at least not any of the parents I know. Laid off parents could adapt by preparing more home cooked meals rather than going out to eat.
The program, coordinated by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, provides food during the summer for thousands of low-income Missouri children who rely on the school cafeteria for free or reduced-price meals during the regular school year.
This is not a discussion of how to handle the public orphanage. These are children who have parents already providing meals for their children. This program could have an unintended consequence of diminishing parental involvement. Why have meals at home with your loved ones if you can go to the government soup kitchen and get one for free? This could have the effect of breaking apart more families.
Hundreds of local community organizations throughout the state will offer lunch, as well as breakfast, during the summer months to eligible children. The meals will be served at approximately 700 locations in Missouri, including schools, parks, YMCA facilities, Boys and Girls Clubs, churches and other places where children gather in the summertime.
Who’s buying dinner? Who is getting paid to serve the meal? Churches and other non-profits can do this at no cost to the taxpayer if it is warranted. That is what they did when Louisiana had a hurricane.
The estimated expense for all of these “free” meals for 2009 summer months is $9.8 million. The cost of each lunch meal is $3.1825, the cost of each breakfast is $1.8150, and the cost of each supplement is $0.7525. (They call a snack a “supplement”.) (Source: USDA Food and Nutrition Service/ Summer Food Service Program/ Reimbursement Rates for 2009). That money is coming from us. In 2008 this program cost taxpayers ten million dollars. This is also an entitlement program with no cap on how much can be spent. In the early 1900’s the average family paid about $20.00 per person per year for taxes. That left a great deal for our citizens to engage in acts of charity and helping poor neighbors who needed a meal.
When churches offer a meal, they can serve the individual with a sense of love and caring for those less fortunate. Government cannot match that. Bigger governmental programs take away our connectedness to the human family, our brotherhood and our need for one another.
“Children need nutritious food to grow and learn all year long,” said Ann McCormack, chief of the health department’s Bureau of Community Food and Nutrition Assistance. “Thousands of children across Missouri will benefit from the meals provided through the Summer Food Service Program.”
While nobody is disputing the benefits of nutritious food, why the presumption that parents are not providing nutritious food for their children? Even if they are not, who created a new rule that says government must make up for any lack at home? The problem of childhood obesity has been cited as one of the most rapidly growing health problems in America . People who are struggling with lack of food usually do not have an obesity problem.
Click here to read about obesity.
Meals will be served at designated sites to children age 18 and under. Meals also are available to individuals’ age 18 to 21 that are determined by a state or local educational agency to be mentally or physically disabled and who participate during the school year in an established school program for the mentally or physically disabled.
Anyone under 18 can be eligible? Can’t they get a job during the summer by the time they are 16? Hunger can be a positive motivator. What is wrong with the idea of getting a job so you can get better meals?
Tip: If you work for McDonald’s, they will feed you for free during your break.
If you're interesting in sane, rational information about Summer Food Service Programs, visit http://www.dhss.mo.gov/sfsp/.
Eligible participants include children up to 18 years old whose family income is less than or equal to 185% of the poverty line, or income-eligible adults over 18 who have a disability and participate in a school-based program for the disabled during the school year.