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    “Feeding Stray Animals”

    Here’s one way to get media attention. Run for government office and refer to poor people as “stray animals.” What state in the nation could this political hopeful possibly spring from? South Carolina is a good guess.

    South Carolina’s Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, who hopes to replace the missing-in-action, weeping lover of Argentine women, Mr. Mark Sanford, as governor, said during a recent speech:

    “My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.”

    Who was he referring to? Bauer indirectly compared people receiving government assistance, babies making babies, and parents with children who get free or reduced lunches at school with the feeding of stray animals. Yikes. Poor word choice?

    Bauer continued to claim that the government could not afford to keep doling out funds on behalf of its citizens without some kind of responsibility being shown on the receiving end, such as parents attending teacher conferences. He said, “We can’t afford to keep just giving money away.”

    Though I certainly don’t endorse Bauer’s idea that feeding the poor leads to unwanted reproduction, after reading about his foot-in-the-mouth experience, I wanted to do more research on the National School Lunch Program (one of the programs he targets) to see how much it costs, how many children it serves, and any criticism of the program.

    If you’ve read Crazy Like a Fox, you know that Ben Chavis didn’t have AIPCS take part in the National School Lunch Program once he took over. He thought that students generally found the food “nasty” (his word), so as a result they didn’t eat it and the school ended up with a lot of food waste. In addition, running the program would have required paying people (under union wages) an over-priced amount.

    Sure enough, right away in my Google search I found an article that claimed: “For decades, American students have tagged school lunch as ‘nasty.’”

    The article, “Rethinking School Lunch” by Barbara Cervone, provides background on the National School Lunch Program, which cost $9.3 billion in fiscal year 2008, according to the National School Lunch Program official website. “Rethinking School Lunch” continues with:

    “In the 1930s, when policymakers introduced the idea of school lunch, they were not thinking about taste-bud appeal.

    “Instead, they saw the school cafeteria as a place to address two problems: how to feed the hungry children of the Great Depression, and what to do with a rising agricultural surplus that was plunging American farmers into bankruptcy.

    “When the United States entered World War II, nutrition became ‘a matter of self defense,’ Susan Levine writes in School Lunch Politics: The Surprising History of America’s Favorite Welfare Program (Princeton University Press, 2008). In 1946 Congress established the National School Lunch Program—which is still in existence, serving approximately 30.5 million lunches per day…

    “In the 1940s and 50s, school lunch was seen as a program for all children, rich and poor. In the 1960s it evolved into a poverty program, though middle-class students had access to unsubsidized school lunches.

    “From the start, however, the National School Lunch Program was grossly underfunded, reaching a low in the 1980s under the Reagan administration. Schools turned to private food companies, including fast food chains, to cut costs and operate their cafeterias more efficiently. They also found ways to meet federal nutrition standards with lower quality foods—with the Reagan administration famously suggesting that ketchup could be counted as a vegetable.

    “Today, many critics point out that the school lunch program, rather than contributing to food security among low-income families, has become a dumping ground for foods we have too much of, and which are not particularly healthy. Typical school meals sell well to children—in part, because their cheap ingredients are highly processed, with high fat and lots of preservatives.”

    http://www.whatkidscando.org/featurestories/2009/11_school_lunch/index.html

    Stay tuned next week as I share more research on the National School Lunch Program.

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