Yes, there are hungry children out there. And no child should go hungry in a land of plenty like the US.
But using the school lunch program as a supplemental food program for poor kids is inefficent and a waste.
Four House Democrats have proposed legislation that would expand school lunch programs to weekends and holidays.
Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) proposed the bill, which would amend the Richard Russell National School Lunch Act to set up weekend and holiday "feeding programs." The proposal is meant to help ensure that at-risk school children meet their nutritional needs, but it would only extend this help during the school year, not during the summer.
Her bill, H.R. 1395, is co-sponsored by Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Terri Sewell (D-Ala.).
The bill is the latest entry to the list of legislation meant to tweak the national school lunch program. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), for example, has proposed the Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention America Act, S. 39, which would broaden the federal nutrition program, including by expanding it to childcare centers.
Other proposals have been made by members looking to limit school lunch guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last year, the USDA proposed calorie caps on school lunches, along with caps on grains and proteins that children can eat in meals served by schools.
The agency has since waived the cap on grains and proteins for two years. But last week, Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) proposed the Sensible School Lunch Act, which would permanently eliminate those caps.
Crawford's bill, H.R. 1244, keeps in place the calorie caps that the USDA recommended. But Crawford says that repealing the grains and protein caps would give schools the flexibility to feed children properly.
"USDA's new school nutrition regulations are not working and are leaving students hungry," Crawford said last week. "In October, I hosted a Nutrition Summit in my district where I listened to school administrators, parents, nutritionists and teachers tell me how the nutrition guidelines are affecting their students."
The whole point of creating the food stamp program was to take the dozen or so agencies and departments that had nutritional programs for the poor and combine them into one overall federal program. Now putting school lunches in the business of supplemental nutrition is just spreading things out again, duplicating what another federal program is supposed to do.
This is how government grows - and wastes money. If the kids aren't getting enough to eat outside of school, then the problem should be addressed by better educating parents in how to shop sensibly to make their food budget last or increasing the monthly SNAP allowance, not setting up a duplicate government service.