- The Washington Times
Monday, December 9, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

There’s much ado about food stamps now that the Trump administration has put new reforms in place, which include requiring “able-bodied” recipients to work.

However, before we launch into that hot topic, consider this food-related issue: School officials are throwing away food that isn’t eaten by students and shaming students by tossing their food away in front of others because those students have a balance to pay on their food accounts.


Shame on those grown folk, of course, because they are not only wasting good food but good money, too. Federal, state and local coffers pay for school feeding programs, and your taxes fill those coffers.

Also, some school districts feed all students regardless of their ability to pay. In California, for example, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed lunch-for-all legislation in October.

What could prove troublesome, though, is legislation making the rounds here in Washington, D.C. Proposed by Sen. Tina Smith of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and Rep. Ilhan Omar, the No Shame at School Act would ban wristbands, hand stamps and similar types of ID for students who cannot pay for feeding programs and prohibit the publishing of lists of students owe money. Schools would be outlawed from using debt collectors to recoup school debt.

What irony. Members of Congress wear lapel pins to ID themselves members of Congress — at taxpayer expense — but no such privilege shall be afforded school youngsters.

Anyway, here’s two other motives of the lawmakers’: The legislation also proposes more students be eligible for free and reduced meals, and would require school districts to reimburse students who had paid.

What a tab.

Federal, state and local governments will have to hire personnel to rewrite school feeding program laws and regulations, unions will balk at the new job descriptions and push for raises, and schools will have to retrain principals, teachers, cafeteria and website personnel on the new laws and regulations.

All this so kids can eat breakfast and lunch at school.

It’s as if parents aren’t providing breakfast at home and lunches for children anymore — daily sustenance that can easily be prepared at home even if the family is on food stamps.

Understand, food stamps cannot be used for prepared food, and thousands of schools do not prepare their own food.

But there is another way that school districts can ID students for free and reduced-priced meals, and that is by embedding the privilege in their student ID cards.

See, schools inform the federal government about high-poverty schools, and they give the feds the number of students per school, too. So why not issue each student with an ID card with that pertinent information?

It would be far easier than creating a government boondoggle as Miss Smith and Ms. Omar have proposed.

After all, the problem is not the Trump administration’s tightening of food stamps, per se, and the goal is to feed the children, right?

“The last thing any child should have to worry about is being able to afford eating breakfast and lunch at school.”

Do you have any idea who said that?

He’s not a politician, but don’t think Hollywood or Broadway, or TV, Netflix or your favorite Democratic Party rock star.

That is my favorite NFL cornerback, Richard Sherman of the San Francisco 49ers. Blanket Coverage, the Richard Sherman Family Foundation, wipes out school food debts for thousands upon thousands of students and families.

That’s how you feed the children whose parents can’t spare a dime.

And it wouldn’t hurt to show the door to the school personnel who do the shaming. Shame on them.

⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.


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