Texas man pays off over 60 school lunch debts so children can eat
Dallas resident, Kenny Thompson was–like most of us–completely appalled when he heard about that school in Utah seizing and throwing out the lunches of children “in debt” to the school’s lunch program. Being not only a parent, but also a tutor and mentor to children at other schools, Thompson wondered if there was anything similar going on in his area. Unsurprisingly, there was.
Thompson found that dozens of children in his area were on “reduced lunches”–meaning that instead of a hot meal, they got cold cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, because their parents had fallen behind on payments on the lunches–which cost about 40 cents a day.
So he decided to do something. He forked over $465 of his own money to cover the debts of the over 60 students whose accounts had gone into the red.
“These are elementary school kids. They don’t need to be worried about finances,” said Thompson. “They need to be worried about what grade they got in spelling.”
Thompson says many kids he knows with negative accounts forgo the lunch line altogether to avoid embarrassment. But that’s bad for education as physicians have linked classroom performance with proper nutrition.
Thompson believes he made a difference when he made the decision to help those students.
“When I left the building knowing that they were getting fed, they didn’t have that stress,” said Thompson. “The best money I ever spent.”
Sidenote: $465 is considerably less than the $4600 taxpayers spent on the expensed meals, or the $24,313 in travel expenses of Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston, who famously suggested that poor children work as janitors to pay for their lunches, to teach them the important lesson of there being “no such thing as a free lunch.”
On the one hand–yeah, I think that this is a thing tax money should take care of. Call me crazy, but I feel a lot better about paying for school lunches than I do for wars, corporate subsidies or congressional meals. It’s more than a little annoying to think of all the money doled out to agribusiness through the farm bill being passed this week, while another $90 a month gets cut from SNAP recipients and there are children whose parents cannot even afford to pay for their school lunches. It’s messed up. It’s like looking at a guy who has just had his arm hacked off and is bleeding everywhere, and suggesting he get a nose job.
On the other, the most important thing is obviously that these kids get to eat, and if the government is going to do anything about it, then someone should. With food stamps being cut again, this problem is only going to get worse, and personal principals about what the governments priorities should be shouldn’t be as important as making sure these kids don’t go hungry. So if we have to start doing Kickstarters to accomplish this, then that’s what we ought to do. I know I’m going to look into what’s going on in Chicago as far as this is concerned, and maybe you might want to do the same in your communities.
And now, Miss Whitney Houston: