APRIL 23, 2012
In a laughable story that illustrates how dense government can be, a taxpayer-funded program that feeds low-income children free breakfast in public schools is causing concern about child obesity.
That’s because, as it turns out, some kids are “double-dipping” or eating twice in the morning, according to a national newspaper report. They have breakfast at home before going to school, then again once they are in class on taxpayer dime. This seems to indicate that the government could save some money by eliminating the program all together.
After all, the government offers free school breakfast in poor neighborhoods because kids supposedly come to class hungry and unable to concentrate on their studies. It’s a way to improve their academic performance, according to the experts running the nation’s ailing public education system. Under this argument, obesity would certainly not be an issue. Kids that go hungry and need the government to step in for a meal or two aren’t usually fat.
In this particular case, several large urban school districts offer free breakfast in the classroom—rather than the cafeteria—to ensure that food reaches the mouths of hungry children from low-income families. This eliminates the stigma of going to the cafeteria to get the free meal, which has been available for years at virtually all of the nation’s public schools.
As a result of the new classroom convenience, the number of students who eat free breakfast has tripled in certain districts, according to the news report that also reveals other striking stats related to the program; absenteeism has dropped in Los Angeles and Chicago officials say kids from low-income families are eating healthier meals more often. Let’s get out the pompoms!
Not so fast. In a major U.S. city like New York, health officials are hesitant about expanding the region’s free classroom breakfast program because children might be “inadvertently taking in excess calories by eating in multiple locations.” This could contribute to the child obesity epidemic that’s become the focus of Michelle Obama’s costly national campaign. The First Lady even managed to get Congress to pass a multi-billion-dollar law to improve the inner-city diet, largely to tackle childhood obesity.
Nearly half of New York’s elementary and middle-school students are overweight or obese, according to a public health official quoted in the news story. Thus the concern in expanding a free meal program created for malnourished kids from poor families that can’t afford food. Parents from low-income New York schools who were interviewed for the piece expressed concern that their kids were getting breakfast in class because they eat at home every morning.
One mother said she actually reduced what her five-year-old eats at home because he has a second breakfast at school. This obviously creates doubts about the need for this taxpayer-funded meal program. Uncle Sam is already feeding a record 45 million people via food stamps and the number is quickly growing, according to the most recent government figures.
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