In another good move for farmers and eaters, the Biden Administration last April extended free school lunches for every student in every school district through this coming school year. What a deal! We feed every kid, we get rid of that whole messy “lunch-shaming” foolishness, we speed up the lunch line, and, as Senator Bernie Sanders notes in his explanation of his bill to make universal free school meals permanent, we help kids learn and grow:
Studies show that students with access to free breakfast have improved attendance rates and perform better in school. Free and accessible school meals have also [been] shown to reduce financial stress for students and families, improve health outcomes in students, reduce stigma associated with the programs, and lead to fewer behavioral incidents and lower suspension rates [links in original; Senator Bernie Sanders, “Universal School Meals Program Act: Bill Summary,” retrieved 2021.08.17].
Ohio, California, and Maine all dig free school meals. I can’t imagine why any state or school district would reject this fair and sensible policy. But just in case some South Dakota district is run by the local Taliban and wants to avoid federal and state entanglements (uh oh, Rapid City), the South Dakota Department of Education is issuing guidelines for how to operate a traditional school lunch program, complete with income guidelines, application and review requirements, appeals process….
But before I break out another blockquote, could someone just tell me why? WHY?!?Why would any school want to go back to incurring the overhead of keeping track of kids’ families’ income? Why would any school want to keep fussing with lunch cards and a whole unnecessary income stream requiring bookkeeping and auditing and daily processing? Why would any school choose to impose a fee schedule on its lunches when our tax dollars are all loaded up and ready to cover everyone’s bill?
Students, like an army, march on their stomachs. Close your cashboxes, open the lunch lines, and let’s feed all those students!