Here’s a fact – all children get hungry. Here’s another fact – all kids in the US are necessary legally go to school. Putting the two together, one would conclude that universally free school meals are a given. While other countries have left behind the primitive and petty acts of putting children in debt for a few dollars a carton of milk and trying to forbid Preventing students from going to the cafeteria for unpaid fees, the world’s largest nation has failed. Even today we wonder which children are poor enough to be able to eat a meal without financial strain. That needs to change. Obviously, the need for food is universal, so one should not have to prove eligibility to have access to it, especially in a school.
When students return to school, many of the more forgiving regulations Those caused by the pandemic have been lifted – including the waivers which allowed all students to eat for free at school regardless of their income. These measures were implemented after the pandemic revealed the true colors of our nation. For all but the insanely rich, financial stability collapsed and income inequality – in which we are already the top nation – increased. The effects of the pandemic included difficult food insecurity etc elevated Food prices and the school feeding policy were among several measures enacted to address the lack of affordable food. If so, so many Americans legal action, had our country really been as financially and socially stable as we are under the current welfare system, this trend would not have emerged. The pandemic exposed America for what it was – barely able to keep anyone alive and well, especially children.
However, as the COVID-19 vaccine emerged and health policies surrounding the virus began to unravel, many government institutions withdrew their policies, overlooking the fact that the pandemic was not the sole cause of food insecurity and income inequality. The foregoing waivers were not extended for the 2022-2023 school year and many children are returning without a free lunch.
One of the justifications for this withdrawal is that children who were already eligible before the pandemic—low-income children—are still eligible. That’s just not good enough and never has been. Even those who are not considered low-income or poor struggle to pay for school meals. First of all, students should not go into debt. It is unacceptable that children “owe” school money for lunch, and maybe even are starved and ashamed because of this. Of course, that blame shifts to the parents or guardians, but that in itself is reprehensible. Whether packing lunch for your child or giving your children money for school lunches, household finances are used to support a child in a government facility, as opposed to money used for other necessities and bills.
Not only does this have financial implications for the children and their families, but there are also stigmas associated with free or discounted lunches – not only from individuals but also from the government. Reminds of the “Welfare Queen” Although welfare reform has prevailed since President Reagan, America has often viewed children who qualify for these programs as inferior and pathetic. That shame in itself is terrible, but even more so under a racial lens. Black, brown and indigenous children are more likely attend school in areas of high poverty than their white and Asian counterparts, and 40 percent of Black and Hispanic parents of school-age children are food insecure. Not only that, but the requirements for eligibility for school meals stratify families. These rigid requirements mean, for example, that when a family is no longer entitled to free or discounted meals, it must start paying for their children’s meals – they have made it to a new economic rank just to have a new bill Counting.
Also the hoops that “eligible” children and their families have to jump through receive free or discounted lunches are tedious, stratified, and arbitrary, varying by state. If a household fails to apply for these school feeding programs, what then? Why do we judge how rich or poor a child is before they deserve food? There should be no process to justify free school meals at school, a place children must go to every week – let alone an arbitrary date after which children are deemed unworthy. A lot of school lunches aren’t just that relative the healthiest Meals for children, but for some they are the only meals a child receives. Putting a price and a deadline on these resources for each student, and allowing some to pay and others not to pay, means asking the question, “Which of these kids deserves help with grocery shopping?”
Universal free school meals for all children in the country are not impossible – they are not pipe dreams. It’s proven doable, manageable, and frankly, more holistic than anything the US has ever dreamed up in terms of school meals. While many states are continuing Providing free meals for students should not be viewed as a zip code luxury – people deserve food because they are people. The argument is only emphasized for children, and they do not owe you anything.
Shaleah Tolliver is Senior Associate Opinion Editor for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at [email protected]
The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Cavalier Daily. Columns reflect authors’ views only.