Government's Free School Breakfast And Free School Lunch Program Expands To...Free School Dinner
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The era of Big Government expands daily and one area of gratis goodies is free food. First the kiddies got free breakfast, then lunches and snacks so any unfortunate stomach rumbles would be prevented. In some places, free food is dispensed through the schools during the summer vacation months.

Now we learn that nearly a million kids got a free-to-them dinner or an after-school feeding last year.

Perish the thought that parents should be responsible for feeding the kiddies; the government can do that job so much better, particularly with the First Lady heading up the nutrition aspect of the nanny state.

In addition, what about the valuable tradition of families eating dinner together? A 2013 Gallup poll found that 53 percent of adults with children younger than 18 say their family eats dinner together at home six or seven nights a week. But the government wants to intrude further into family affairs.

Actual financial hardship has become less necessary to qualify for handouts because poor kids getting free food might experience damage to their self-esteem. So some schools hand out government meals to all kids regardless of need, as happened in Nashville last year:

Metro Schools to offer free breakfast, lunch to all students this fall, WSMV-TV, June 11, 2014

Metro Nashville Public Schools will be providing free meals for all of its students this fall.

Starting in August, schools will be serving up breakfast and lunch free of charge to all students, regardless of their parents’ income. [. . .]

The program is aimed at not only helping families’ budgets, but also students’ self-esteem.

“I think now that it’s inclusive and provided to all, there will be no way to look at anyone differently,” said [school spokesman Joe] Bass. “We’ll all be equal.”

I don’t think Americans would object to feeding children who are actually going hungry, but this is social engineering gone loony.

Below, hundreds of diverse Ventura County California kiddies lined up with parents for food on the taxpayer’s tab.

For background about the growing phenomenon of government (aka taxpayer-funded) food handouts, see my 2011 article, Free Food Nation (Immigrants Welcome, of Course).

The news story below refers to the Los Angeles School Unified District, with the ethnic information for 2013-14 following:

More schools serve students dinner as demand expands, Associated Press, January 18, 2015

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Many of the students at Kingsley Elementary School in a low-income neighborhood of Los Angeles eat breakfast and lunch provided by the school. For the nearly 100 enrolled in the after-school program, another meal is served: supper.

The nation’s second largest school district is doubling the number of students served dinner, with an eye toward eventually offering it at every school. It’s a growing trend: Nationwide, the number of students served dinner or an after-school snack soared to nearly 1 million last year.

“When kids are hungry, they don’t pay attention,” said Bennett Kayser, a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District board, which was announcing the expansion Thursday. “This is something that should have started years ago.”

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia began offering students dinner as part of a pilot program expanded to all states after the 2010 passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Schools where at least half the students are low-income and qualify for free or reduced-price lunch are reimbursed for each supper by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, at a rate often significantly higher than the cost of the meal.

In the 2014 fiscal year, 104 million suppers were served to students, up from about 19 million in 2009. Participation is still lower than in the nation’s long-running breakfast and lunch programs, which serve more than 12 million and 31 million students, respectively.

The introduction of dinner to school routines is unique in that it could take the place of what many consider a near-sacred ritual: The family dinner.

Proponents say that since many students stay on campus until the early evening hours, it makes sense to provide an additional meal. In the case of the neediest students, they might not get anything to eat after class other than what is offered at school.

Research on family dinners has shown a plethora of benefits: Greater academic achievement, less delinquency, and better family relations. Yet the research also presents a chicken-and-egg type question: Do children reap those benefits because they have dinner with their families, or do the same families that have dinner together display other traits that account for higher achievement?

More recent research indicates while family dinners can be linked to fewer symptoms of depression, most of the other benefits seem to decrease when demographic and other environmental factors are taken into account. At a time when many families have hectic schedules, dinner at school could provide some relief, said Rachel Dunifon, a policy professor at Cornell University.

“If these meals help alleviate stress, it could actually be good and open up more time for families,” she said.

LAUSD currently serves supper to 75,000 students and plans to expand the program to about 150,000 over the next two years. School officials estimate it will generate $16.6 million in revenue, which will go toward expanding the program.

Other large, urban districts with dinner programs include Philadelphia and District of Columbia public schools. Wayne Grasela, senior vice president for food services, said the School District of Philadelphia now serves 4,500 dinners each day.

At Kingsley Elementary School, several students said the roasted sunflower seeds, cheese sticks and, depending on the day, sandwiches, salads and chicken they are served function more like a snack than a meal. Some eat another meal at home.

But for others, it’s one of the few things they eat after class. Ten-year-old Evelyn Ruballos said she usually only eats crackers when she gets home.

“And then I just go to sleep,” she said.

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