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I beg you, crying on my knees: please, oh please, don't feed the children!
August 23, 2011 5:31 PM   Subscribe

Seoul mayor issues ultimatum in bid to limit free school lunches. 'Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon wants to limit free school lunches to poor children and take students from wealthy families out of the gratis cafeteria line. And he warns that if voters don't back his agenda in a Wednesday referendum, he's going to quit his post.'

'In an emotional news conference Sunday, Oh wiped away tears, calling the issue so important to the nation that if his plan failed, or if too few voters cast ballots to decide the issue, he was prepared to suffer the consequence.

"If my decision today can sow the seeds to bear the fruits of sustainable welfare and true democracy in the country, I have no regret even if I fade into the mists of history."

Then he dropped to his knees and solemnly bowed his head, in what critics term a shameless theatrical appeal to voters. Oh needs a third of Seoul's 8 million voters to cast ballots or the referendum is void.'

'He calls the free-meal plan "welfare populism" that will unduly cost taxpayers while South Korea struggles amid a worldwide financial downturn. This week, President Lee Myung-bak, a fellow party member, said such expensive, populist programs could drag the nation into a fiscal mess similar to those troubling several European nations.

"The Greek financial crisis was sparked by two major rival parties' competition for populism," Lee said during a weekly radio address broadcast nationwide. "Once the government implements a policy, it's difficult to wind it back."'
posted by VikingSword (57 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Without some definition of what he means by "wealthy" it is difficult to comment on this.
posted by Winnemac at 5:39 PM on August 23, 2011


Wait, Korea offers a free school lunch to rich and poor alike? So no kid is stigmatized for being in the free lunch program? I had no idea Korea was that progressive.
posted by indubitable at 5:39 PM on August 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


Threatening to quite if you don't get your way is childish, elected official or not.
posted by asnider at 5:42 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, please.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:43 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had no idea Korea was that progressive.

Korea is many things. I love the country and the people. But Korea is not progressive.
posted by smorange at 5:47 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Populism. Haven't heard that word in a while.
posted by jabberjaw at 5:51 PM on August 23, 2011


This makes me wonder what the standard is in various other countries, in public schools. Lunch provided? Students pay/pay as they can? Everyone brings lunch? Who does what, where? I've seen blogs talking about what kids eat for school lunch in various countries but I don't recall ever seeing a discussion of how these lunches are provided.

In our district in Minnesota, there's free/reduced lunch available on an as needed basis but there's free breakfast for all students regardless of income, it's just plain free. My rising second grader just discovered this little breakfast fact yesterday when I posted the new month's lunch menu on our bulletin board, and is already working out whether she can get away with eating breakfast both at home and then again upon arrival at school. The kid's a hobbit.
posted by padraigin at 5:53 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do wealthy Koreans even send their kids to private schools?
posted by delmoi at 5:54 PM on August 23, 2011


So no kid is stigmatized for being in the free lunch program

Does anyone really tell the truth? If you put down and income that was too high teacher sent it back for your parents to change it. I don't think I knew anyone who did not get the free lunch. Even the free lunch in the summer was totally cool. Now the free breakfast kids, they were stigmatized. The summer lunch just ended, but it would have been cool for some of the tween mefites to have a meetup there.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:54 PM on August 23, 2011


Sounds like someone hired some American political consultants.
posted by dortmunder at 5:56 PM on August 23, 2011


And he warns that if voters don't back his agenda in a Wednesday referendum, he's going to quit his post.'

I wish more of this happened in the US.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:56 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Does anyone really tell the truth?

Yes. What kind of a question is that?
posted by grouse at 6:00 PM on August 23, 2011


Free food for kids? WTF.
posted by R. Mutt at 6:00 PM on August 23, 2011


"This is an chance for those with more resourses contribute to society. It would be a patriotic duty to help care for those less fortunate."

better then crying and tendering
posted by clavdivs at 6:04 PM on August 23, 2011


Yes. What kind of a question is that?

Sorry, my comment was a bit rushed. I meant in my experience, every family regardless of income, reported an income low enough to get their kids into the free lunch program. If you are telling me there are families that don't do this, I am actually shocked.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:04 PM on August 23, 2011


If you are telling me there are families that don't do this, I am actually shocked.

I only personally knew 1 person who was in free-or-reduced lunch in my Georgia public schools. There were a few others, but it was definitely a stigma thing and very infrequently used.

My mother taught in a much poorer area of the county (my school was middle/upper-middle) and I think like 2/3 of her kids were on free-or-reduced lunch.

Of course, these programs vary by state/locality in the US, don't they?
posted by wildcrdj at 6:08 PM on August 23, 2011


Does anyone really tell the truth? If you put down and income that was too high teacher sent it back for your parents to change it. I don't think I knew anyone who did not get the free lunch. Even the free lunch in the summer was totally cool. Now the free breakfast kids, they were stigmatized. The summer lunch just ended, but it would have been cool for some of the tween mefites to have a meetup there.

I can't even imagine this working out in practice, but maybe I grew up with too obvious a divide between haves and have-nots, and spend too much time in classrooms now.

That said, it's my understanding that due to government funding, many American school districts actually lose money on every lunch that is paid for by the student, while being fully reimbursed by the government for lunches they provide for free. Which makes me feel guilty about not making my kids' lunches every day, but I got sick of arguing with them about what they would or would not eat and decided that I would rather they not-eat food that I not-had-to-make. And indeed, we save a lot of money by paying for school lunch rather than making lunches at home. Dilemma.
posted by padraigin at 6:09 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you are telling me there are families that don't do this, I am actually shocked.
That's fraud. There's income verification in some states. Poor kids who need free lunches sometimes get them because their parents have an immigration status that makes them afraid to fill out forms.

I put extra money in my daughter's account and tell her to buy any kid a lunch who can't afford it without making a big deal of it. She's never abused it and I've gotten thank yous from parents who forgot to send a lunch or add more money on the account.

I don't know any parent that's lied about income to get a free lunch -- and I've known lots who've lied about residence for districts and other similar things.

Where did you go to school? That seems... odd.

I agree that every politician should do this. Cheaper than a recall or impeachment, even if you want the policy eventually.
posted by Gucky at 6:09 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I went to public school in Brooklyn. There were plenty of pook kids, but working the system is a way of life there. Like I said, teachers sent the form back if you reported an income that was too high.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:15 PM on August 23, 2011


Like I said, teachers sent the form back if you reported an income that was too high.

The school administration was probably worried about losing Title 1 funds. Title 1 funding is granted based on the percentage (40% or greater) of enrolled students whose family income qualifies the student for the Free or Reduced Lunch program. This supplemental funding covers far more than lunch costs, so schools tend to scramble to keep it, if they are anywhere near qualifying for it.
posted by jamaro at 6:29 PM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, let me get this straight. This politician is all but falling on his sword because he desperately wants to not feed children?

Something would have to be kind of broken about you to be willing to break down crying because you were feeding children decent food.
posted by Malor at 6:29 PM on August 23, 2011


Threatening to quite if you don't get your way is childish, elected official or not.

It's called "Pulling a Palin"
posted by Poet_Lariat at 6:30 PM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thank you jamaro. That might explain it.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:34 PM on August 23, 2011


This politician is all but falling on his sword because he desperately wants to not feed children?

The best way, bar none, to systematically disadvantage a kid for the rest of their lives is to not feed them properly until they're about eight; the single biggest factor influencing a person's success and prosperity later in life is whether or not they had a decent supply of real, healthy food during the formative years of their lives.

School meals are a profoundly important social issue. If you're at all serious about equality of opportunity for adults, you make sure they don't go hungry as children.
posted by mhoye at 6:37 PM on August 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


He wants wealthy families to pay for their own lunches, so that they can continue to provide them for those who aren't. I'm OK with this. Unless I'm missing something?
posted by Brocktoon at 6:55 PM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you are telling me there are families that don't do this, I am actually shocked.

Are you sitting down? I got reduced price lunch for a while as a kid. Most of my friends did not.
posted by rtha at 7:02 PM on August 23, 2011


And he warns that if voters don't back his agenda in a Wednesday referendum, he's going to quit his post.'

I wish more of this happened in the US.


I do too, but I was referring to his desire to fuck over poor children.
posted by dortmunder at 7:09 PM on August 23, 2011


The best way, bar none, to systematically disadvantage a kid for the rest of their lives is to not feed them properly until they're about eight; the single biggest factor influencing a person's success and prosperity later in life is whether or not they had a decent supply of real, healthy food during the formative years of their lives.

School meals are a profoundly important social issue. If you're at all serious about equality of opportunity for adults, you make sure they don't go hungry as children.


I completely concur.

This is why I asked my question above about the standards and practices about paying for lunch in various countries, knowing already as a US citizen that lunches are subsidized for low-income students, and that school-provided lunches for paying students are actually a loss-leader in most districts.

I haven't even touched the subject of whether the lunches provided by Korean schools are actually nutritious, which, in the US, is a subject of much debate. I am currently fortunate to live in a district that is actively working to provide healthier school meals, and am personally an active part of the drive to improve the nutrition of the meals available, which is not as easy as you'd think, even if you've watched any Jamie Oliver specials on the subject.
posted by padraigin at 7:14 PM on August 23, 2011


Are you sitting down? I got reduced price lunch for a while as a kid. Most of my friends did not

Yeah, I think we established that it was just me since I went to a disadvantaged school. The things you learn on metafilter! I thought everyone got free lunch and tried to buy comics with foodstamps as a kid.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:14 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was referring to his desire to fuck over poor children.

It seems that he wants only poor children to get the free lunches, and not rich children.
posted by grouse at 7:16 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here is a little more description of the different proposals.

Basically, they currently give free lunch to 35% of students, some want to raise it to 100% and he wants to raise it to the poorest 50%.
posted by wildcrdj at 7:20 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Giving free lunches to everybody saves a bit of money. The bureaucracy needed for means-testing is not free.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:24 PM on August 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Canada has no school lunch program. Do we need one? From my perspective, sending your kid to school without a packed lunch seems like sending them in with dirty clothes and no school supplies. The parents would either have to be incredibly poor, or negligent.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 7:36 PM on August 23, 2011


From my perspective, sending your kid to school without a packed lunch seems like sending them in with dirty clothes and no school supplies.

We've got lots of those in the US. Good to know that poor people don't exist in Canada.
posted by indubitable at 7:44 PM on August 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


Pruitt-Igoe: Canada has no school lunch program. Do we need one? From my perspective, sending your kid to school without a packed lunch seems like sending them in with dirty clothes and no school supplies. The parents would either have to be incredibly poor, or negligent.

Or both. After all, parents have a marginal ability to choose their kids. Kids just get to roll with the punches.

And to answer your question, yes, we absolutely should. I had no idea we didn't, and I'm stunned by this revelation. Canada fail.
posted by Decimask at 7:58 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


We've got lots of those in the US. Good to know that poor people don't exist in Canada.

Of course parents poor enough to not be able to provide 3 meals a day exist. Negligent parents exist too, and it's tragic. But I have no idea how many parents are in that position.

I had no idea we didn't, and I'm stunned by this revelation. Canada fail.

Nobody is really talking about it, but that could be because it's not a service people expect from the school system. School lunches are a totally logical thing, but alien to me because I was only exposed to them through television.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 8:14 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hopefully they are better now. Sloppy Joe on a yellowish bun, hamburgers with chunchy bits in them, french bread pizza, cut green beans swimming in some strange oil and water concoction. Bright red hotdogs and beans, brown bananas. The worst was the tuna fish. School lunches were pretty bad. Of course there are also kids that have only one shirt, and sometimes kids wear the same sneakers to school every day with the soles falling off and flapping even in the winter. We called those talking shoes because they look like they are talking when you walk. I was better off than those kids but not by much.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:34 PM on August 23, 2011


If you are telling me there are families that don't do this, I am actually shocked.

I pay full price for my kids' lunches, because I can afford to. I would be shocked to find out I was the only one.
posted by davejay at 9:19 PM on August 23, 2011


At my kid's school, they use a card to keep track of how many lunches the student has available. That's all it does. All the kids who eat school lunch have the same card; they are identical. If a kid who pays for lunch runs out, he still gets his lunch, and his parents get an email. No stigma. The real problem is getting the kids to actually eat the lunch. Of course it sucks! How big do we think the food budget really is?
posted by Brocktoon at 9:22 PM on August 23, 2011


How big do we think the food budget really is?

For Seoul, 447 million Korean won each year, or 370 million U.S. dollars.
posted by grouse at 9:25 PM on August 23, 2011


green beans swimming in some strange oil

I swear to X that these "green beans," in their odious milieu, contribute in some bizarre fashion to the base fear that I experience in adult nightmares. There is something sinister about them. They inhabit the uncanny valley between food and not-food. The bean-water ratio is just way, way off and you can just TELL that they are something ELSE masquerading as FOOD. If the Mayor's proposal saves some Korean kids, rich and poor alike, from the horrible, horrible beans, I support it.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 9:48 PM on August 23, 2011


This is why I asked my question above about the standards and practices about paying for lunch in various countries

Well in Australia, there is no school lunch program, there is no free school lunch program for poor students. You bring a packed lunch, that's what lunch boxes are for, and if your parents are feeling generous they'll give you a couple of bucks to get some chips from the school canteen at recess. I've never really understand what goes on in all the US and UK tv shows I watch - you have, like a cafeteria and everyone lines up every day for a hot meal on a plate? Parents pay for this in advance, unless you're poor? Always seemed very cool to me (especially as a kid), but now as an adult with a child, I'd much rather pack them food that's good for them, than rely on the school to feed them shit.
posted by Jimbob at 10:00 PM on August 23, 2011


I could use a datapoint. What is it these Korean kids get for lunch? If it's comparable to Korean airline food, then I'd say they're doing pretty good (compared to US school lunches / airline food).
posted by jabberjaw at 10:20 PM on August 23, 2011


School lunch in Korea
posted by bardic at 10:46 PM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I guess times have changed since I was in school in Korea. I got school lunches because I went to a private school; my public school friends brown-bagged it everyday. And, yeah, the school lunches were very good, just like the photos that bardic links to.
posted by tickingclock at 11:17 PM on August 23, 2011


What is it these Korean kids get for lunch?

As with any school-provided food, depends. Some schools serve good lunches. Others...not so much. Depends on the district, who the food provider is, and who holds the purse strings. Most Korean school lunches usually are structured like a typical Korean meal. Rice, some side dish/banchan, maybe a special main for the day featuring protein like bulgogi or fish, and almost always a soup component. And to give a better idea of the eating habits of Korean students at school, besides school lunches, some schools will also have a little storefront/canteen type place (lots of times IN the schools, as well as stores catering to students nearby) to buy snack foods such as snack bread/cakes and assorted non-meal type foods (the expose on the "hamburgers" sold at these places grossed me out so much..I used to pick up the same product from convenience stores as a kid).

The problem is, for every decent lunch like the ones from the link bardic provided, some places don't hold up as well, with watery soups with a leaf or two of some kind of vegetable floating around or a forkful of amorphous meat like substance that may pass for bulgogi, starch-heavy fillers such as sauced noodles (served alongside rice) as a featured dish, fried/proceed instant somethings doused in sauce. Bad school lunches (usually, not just a matter of quality, but also quantity) is a problem that exists for some schools. For a while in Korea, it was a huge internet meme for kids to take pictures of their shitty school lunches and post them online. It's been plenty hotly argued for years as well. Just using the search term 부실급식 (sub-par school meals), will bring up plenty op/eds, news stories and photos on the topic: Photo of 1, 2, 3
posted by kkokkodalk at 11:19 PM on August 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


indubitable : Wait, Korea offers a free school lunch to rich and poor alike? So no kid is stigmatized for being in the free lunch program? I had no idea Korea was that progressive.

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" doesn't exactly describe a progressive ideology so much as a failed one.


Ad hominem : Even the free lunch in the summer was totally cool. Now the free breakfast kids, they were stigmatized.

Strange... From my own childhood, I remember exactly the opposite (not meant to argue with you, just a regional thing I expect). Stopping at the caf and getting a muffin or whatever in the morning, no social implications. Actually eating a school lunch, though (whether free or not) - About as sans culottes as you could get (with "sneaking off to McDonalds" as the "coolest" option, followed by "don't eat", then "bag-o'-junkfood from home", and only the truly desperate would stoop to eating what the school offered for lunch).


delmoi : Do wealthy Koreans even send their kids to private schools?

I didn't realize you live across the pond... :)


Malor : So, let me get this straight. This politician is all but falling on his sword because he desperately wants to not feed children?
dortmunder : I do too, but I was referring to his desire to fuck over poor children.

Sorry, you both need to go back and have a better breakfast. ;)

He wants to restrict free lunches to only the poor kids - As in, if your maid already made you a four course feast of fruit and waffles and a light sorbet to cleanse the palate followed by a quiche, you probably don't need the free Cheerios.
posted by pla at 3:41 AM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


How big do we think the food budget really is?

For Seoul, 447 million Korean won each year, or 370 million U.S. dollars.


Actually, 447 million South Korean won = 413,028 U.S. dollars. Less than half a million USD.
posted by thrako at 3:48 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


ou have, like a cafeteria and everyone lines up every day for a hot meal on a plate? Parents pay for this in advance, unless you're poor? Always seemed very cool to me (especially as a kid), but now as an adult with a child, I'd much rather pack them food that's good for them, than rely on the school to feed them shit.

Depends upon the school. It used to be pretty much universal in the UK, but some schools have shut down their canteen altogether, and most now give you the option of bringing your own packed lunch instead. To pay for it, generally either parents pay for the term and the kids get to choose what meal they want from the choices (i.e. they can't just take 3 desserts), or they operate a till payment system of some kind.

When I was at my old grammar school, they had a cash till; a dinner lady would tot up what you'd chosen, and you'd pay in cash. Shortly before I left, they switched to a cash-card system; I've seen quite a few since then. Now, they usually operate by allowing the parent to top-up the cards via the vendors website via card, and can set limits on how much the child is allowed to charge to the card per day, or they could be topped up with cash via machines in the cafeteria (more popular with the older kids with part-time jobs, so they could buy extra stuff from the tuck shop at break). If you lost or forgot your card, they had emergency cards you could use, or you could get money from the petty-cash at the office and they'd send the bill to your parents.

It varies by council, but as a rule any family claiming job-seekers allowance or income support could apply for school meal vouchers and clothing discounts - since virtually all schools have uniforms. Under cash-till systems, you hand over a paper voucher instead of cash, but that does 'mark you' as a poor kid, and a friend of mine did get terribly teased/bullied over it. The advantage of the card systems is that the vouchers are just recorded on there, and students swipe their card to 'pay' for lunch, just like those with money on them, so there's no visible difference.

Hot meals were always nice in the colder months, especially after a morning double sport period. Packed lunches were better in the summer, as you could eat them out by the playing fields on a designated playground. One of the detentions was to get assigned to the clean-up crew for a week or two picking up litter in your lunch break.
posted by ArkhanJG at 6:23 AM on August 24, 2011


Studies have repeatedly shown (self link to an article I wrote on this subject last year) that academic test scores and student behavior improve when students receive healthy school lunches each day, provided by the school. And by healthy I mean nutritionally balanced lunches containing actual food -- whole grains, fresh produce, etc. -- not the ketchup-counts-as-a-vegetable junk I grew up eating in the 80s in U.S. public schools, although even that was significantly better than no lunch, which is what I might have wound up (not) eating semi-regularly if my school had not provided food for me.

Feeding every kid in a school a good healthy lunch daily seems to be a simple and super cost-effective way to improve not just student health but also academic performance. IMO people who want to cut funding for school lunches are taking a penny-wise, pound foolish approach. It's way cheaper to give kids a decent lunch every day than it is to hire more academic staff to handle behavioral problems and catch kids up on all the subjects they failed to pay attention to the first time around because they were tired or hyper from eating nothing but junk, or hungry from eating nothing at all.

By the way I would like to emphasize that it is not negligence to send your child to school with no lunch if you have no money to buy food with because you are poor through no fault of your own.

There are plenty of loving parents in the U.S. who are unemployed or underemployed who would like more than anything to be working and making enough money to send their kids to school every day with a fabulous lunch, especially during this recession. And the social safety net in the U.S. isn't as strong as that in Canada. Our food stamp program is deliberately designed to give families less food than they actually need to get by every month. Because we wouldn't want those poor people getting too comfortable with the idea of being poor . . .
posted by BlueJae at 6:38 AM on August 24, 2011


Studies have repeatedly shown (self link to an article I wrote on this subject last year) that academic test scores and student behavior improve when students receive healthy school lunches each day, provided by the school. And by healthy I mean nutritionally balanced lunches containing actual food -- whole grains, fresh produce, etc. -- not the ketchup-counts-as-a-vegetable junk I grew up eating in the 80s in U.S. public schools, although even that was significantly better than no lunch, which is what I might have wound up (not) eating semi-regularly if my school had not provided food for me.

I imagine what our country would be like if every school cafeteria was a community cafeteria, and anyone who showed up could get a hot meal.

It would be like Thanksgiving and Christmas all rolled up into one. A veritable non-stop orgy of feeding the hungry...

And then I get sad...
posted by mikelieman at 6:43 AM on August 24, 2011


I mean, maybe I'm terribly naive, but I see hungry people, and an underused resource for feeding hungry people and you know... Chocolate and Peanut Butter...

( Oh, and in my imaginary happy-land, they're open for all 3 meals... )
posted by mikelieman at 6:45 AM on August 24, 2011


And he warns that if voters don't back his agenda in a Wednesday referendum, he's going to quit his post.'

I wish more of this happened in the US.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:56 PM on August 23 [2 favorites +] [!]


You mean like Palin? Or when Governer Perry threatened to have Texas quit the entire United States if he didn't get his way? Basically, the kind of people who operate like this are known as whinging shitbags.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:37 AM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Michigan is one of three states selected to participate in a pilot program that is part of President Barack Obama's Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. All Detroit Public Schools students will receive free lunch, regardless of income level.
posted by Kokopuff at 8:55 AM on August 24, 2011


mikelieman : I imagine what our country would be like if every school cafeteria was a community cafeteria, and anyone who showed up could get a hot meal. It would be like Thanksgiving and Christmas all rolled up into one. A veritable non-stop orgy of feeding the hungry... And then I get sad...

...And then I stop and consider that Every. Single. One. of the indigents (whether homeless or just otherwise "drunk on a park bench by 8am") I pass on my way in to work each morning has a good 100lbs on me. And I could stand to lose 10-15lbs myself, at the moment.

They may need better food, but they sure as hell don't need more of it.

I support school lunch programs for poor kids. Can't we just agree on something nice, without screwing it up by trying to tie it back to adults who seriously need to catch a ride on the nearest ice floe? :)
posted by pla at 9:42 AM on August 24, 2011


And he warns that if voters don't back his agenda in a Wednesday referendum, he's going to quit his post.'

I wish more of this happened in the US.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:56 PM on August 23 [2 favorites +] [!]

You mean like Palin? Or when Governer Perry threatened to have Texas quit the entire United States if he didn't get his way? Basically, the kind of people who operate like this are known as whinging shitbags.
posted by FatherDagon at 5:37 AM on August 24 [1 favorite +] [!]


I read hal's comment as being: I wish more U.S. politicians would quit in a tantrum when they didn't get their way.

Like Newt did back in 1996.
posted by BYiro at 10:14 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ad hominem: "If you are telling me there are families that don't do this, I am actually shocked."

(US school district) Ours was fairly fraud-free, but the verification costs were so high that this year our district is part of a pilot program where the feds just provide free lunch and breakfast for ALL students in any school where over x% of students qualify. We have to pay a certain amount for students who are not poor, but we calculate that we'll save approximately 10% paying the overage for the non-poor students (by census data) vs. doing all of the verification and paperwork for individual students.

The paperwork is now basically "Do you go to George Washington School? Circle One: YES / NO."

It's been interesting to watch the reaction of middle-class parents to being offered free breakfasts and lunches. (The two basic reactions are "WOOOO! One less thing to do in the morning before work!" and "HOW DARE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FEED MY PRECIOUS CHILD JUNK????")

I eat the school lunches every other week -- we get the hot lunch, reheated, for school board meetings. They're not awful. Better than they were when I was in school, anyway. But they could use a lot more veggie variety, for starters. Also the salads should be made with something-other-than-iceberg. But they generally taste decent and they're nutritionally reasonable. This week we had actually a pretty good whole-wheat pasta with broccoli and mushrooms that I wanted seconds of.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:17 PM on August 24, 2011


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