One of the better pandemic programs that the minority party in Congress killed this year was funding for free lunch for all public school students. So our schools are now back to scanning lunch cards, which many families are having a tough time affording:
“We’ve seen a big increase in unpaid (meals),” Rhonda Ramsdell, the president of the School Nutrition Association of South Dakota, said. Ramsdell works in the Meade School District.
As of Sept. 27, the district has more than $3,000 in unpaid meals, Ramsdell said. “Prior to COVID we were running at about $4,500 a year over the course to the end of the school year,” she said.
Ramsdell said she’s heard similar stories from many of the nutrition officials involved in the SNA in the state [Rae Yost, “Unpaid Meal Costs Concern School Officials,” KELO-TV, 2022.09.27].
How much would it cost to put all those meals back on the federal tab, take the bookkeeping off the schools’ shoulders, and keep spaghetti and meatballs in every child’s tummy?
Ramsdell said the federal government through USDA spends about $14 billion a year on the school nutrition program. That’s a lot of money, she said, but for $10 billion more, every student could be fed for free. The most important focus should be lunches, she said [Yost, 2022.09.27].
$10 billion a year—that’s the cost of 14 new B-21 bombers, which our Republican Congress critters have been more than happy to invest in. But they can’t find the courage or capital to invest in children’s health and learning.