In a California city where at least 80 percent of residents are Hispanic, parents no longer need to concern themselves with the annoying task of feeding the children: the taxpayer will handle that expensive chore. (Redistribution of funds conveniently means more cervesa money left over for dad, as it works out.)
Free meals for all at 18 Santa Ana schools, Orange County Register, September 3, 2010Hey, Rosa, those nutritious meals arenâ€™t â€?free of chargeâ€? to the taxpayer, who is forced to pick up the tab.
Every student at 18 of Santa Ana Unifiedâ€™s campuses will receive a free breakfast and lunch for the entire school year regardless of whether they qualify for the federal free and reduced-price meal program.
For the third consecutive year, the district will participate in a U.S. Department of Agriculture program aimed at improving nutrition among students in schools serving the neediest populations.
The 18 schools each have at least 85 percent of students already qualifying for free or reduced-price meals. Officials say the program will also help reduce administrative costs by freeing up district staff from processing thousands of free and reduced-price lunch applications.
â€?Success in education is directly linked to teaching students who are not hungry, said Judy Pollock, interim food services director.
Federal officials have also said the program hopes to capture all needy students who donâ€™t always apply for subsidized meals because of the stigma attached to receiving a free lunch, while friends and fellow classmate pay.
The USDA began the program at districts across the country two years ago. Santa Ana Unified, the countyâ€™s largest district with 55,000 students and 55 campuses, is the only one participating in Orange County. [. . .]
In Santa Ana Unified, a full-priced elementary school breakfast or lunch costs between $2 and $3 per meal. Breakfast dishes include cereal, English muffins with egg and ham, and breakfast burritos with potatoes, cheese and egg. Lunches include spaghetti with meatballs, crispy turkey filet sandwiches, and teriyaki beef with brown rice.
Many parents in Santa Ana welcome the program as a way to promote health for children who instead may eat fast food, or other less nutritious meals. At the same time, parent say the program allows families to save money in tough economic times.
â€?For many of students in this community, the school lunch might be the best meal they receive each day,â€? said Rosa Macias Robles, a parent at Washington Elementary. â€?Besides a good education, giving low-income children a good meal free of charge is one of the best services a school can provide.â€?
Below, moocher parents line up with kids in Ventura County for their free-to-them feeding (For details, see California Free Food Gets Many Takers).