Author Topic: Typically liberal Nick gets grouchy: school lunches and parent responsibility  (Read 5074 times)

Nick_Miller

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Okay so I would self-identify as like a 7 or 8 on a 1-10 conservative to liberal spectrum. BUT...this is one issue that makes me set my jaw, grind my teeth, and clench my manicured writer's fingers into fists of indignation.

To be clear...I WANT kids to eat. Every single day. I want kids to be healthy and happy. And I understand that in SOME, limited circumstances, a family may struggle to put food on the table and need assistance. I have absolutely no problem with that. Schools do more than educate; they act as sort of a social safety net.

I just think that feeding your kid is like one of the very very very most basic duties of a parent, and that this duty shouldn't be outsourced to the government, especially on a long-term basis.

Let me summarize the school lunch program in my largish mid-western city's urban school district.

Number of students: roughly 100,000
Number of students who get free lunch: roughly 90,000

Yes you read correctly.

Now, it's a bit complicated because basically if a school is determined to be in a certain "low income" area, then ALL students at the school eat free, even if they otherwise wouldn't qualify for a free lunch. So of our 100 or so schools, 90 of them are these sorts of schools!

That leaves 10 schools, and my daughters attend 2 of those 10. Even at these 'select' schools, plenty of kids qualify for free lunches; they just have to apply individually.

So basically, a tiny fraction of parents in my city pay for their kids' lunches (and breakfasts too, if they eat those at school). I don't mind paying for my kiddos' lunches, like I said, I think it's a basic duty for parents. But I guess I'm a bit taken aback when I think we're in the vast minority here. I point to irresponsible parents, and I think I am right to do so in most cases (not all), but the issue always comes down to not punishing kids for their parents economic situation.

We're all here talking about optimizing our finances, upping our savings rates to 30, 40, 50%, etc., yet tons of parents don't even freakin' feed their kids. How can we as a society fix this? Or do some people simply not see this as a "problem?" Are people entitled to have kids even when they can't feed them? Do we need some sort of government (or perhaps corporate/govt combo) to educate people on being parents? I know that might sound gross, but...what is the solution? I just feel like this is a big issue that ripples out to many others.

« Last Edit: August 13, 2019, 12:47:20 PM by Nick_Miller »

Barbaebigode

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But is the free food given because otherwise the kids would die of starvation? Or is just another welfare program?

Dabnasty

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I'm a little confused. If 90% of schools/students get free meals by default, this doesn't imply that those kids parents aren't feeding them, it just means they're taking advantage of the free meal that is offered. I would do the same.

Perhaps your anger is directed at the policy of providing free lunch to all students at those schools?

Sibley

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Nick - what are the demographics of your area?

Specifically:
Average and median income
COL - high or low?
White, black, Hispanic, other?
Primarily English speaking or ESL?
White or blue collar?
What's the homelessness rate?
What's the unemployment rate?

I encourage you to dig a bit into the economic realities of your largish mid-western city's urban school district, and not just you and your direct neighbors. Because schools don't get that status without economic reality behind it.  The fact that your children are in schools that aren't 100% free lunch tells me that you may be isolated from the true reality of your area, so you're likely operating with incomplete information.

jeninco

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I'm a little confused. If 90% of schools/students get free meals by default, this doesn't imply that those kids parents aren't feeding them, it just means they're taking advantage of the free meal that is offered. I would do the same.

Perhaps your anger is directed at the policy of providing free lunch to all students at those schools?

My understanding is that at some point it's easier to just feed all the students then to deal with the paperwork of trying to figure out who does/doesn't qualify.

And my personal feeling is "just feed the kids". Outcomes for hungry students in school are much, much worse (because they're hungry, and distracted, and can't really focus on classwork), and school lunches aren't that expensive. I'm happy to contribute (via my tax dollars, or directly if it comes to that) to making sure hungry kids get healthy meals.

Nick_Miller

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I did a little more digging. The 90% of schools where everyone gets a free lunch have student populations where at least 60% of them qualify for SNAP, or are otherwise classified as homeless, migrant, foster children (in some cases), etc. So that's the floor. Some of those schools obviously have populations higher than 60% but you'd really have to dig into data to figure that out.

So okay, let's be conservative and say that means just 70% of families in my city are viewed by the government as being economically precarious, or whatever term you'd want to use for struggling to put food on the table...that's still the majority, and I guess it still floors me.

I guess I just think you shouldn't have kids unless you can afford to feed them and clothe them. Maybe that makes me a moderate these days, I dunno. I know on Twitter I feel like freaking Republican sometimes. *cringes*

And my main gripe is NOT that students are necessarily feeding the kids, it's that SO many families apparently qualify for these programs in the first place! So I'm bitching about people not being responsible in family planning, managing finances, working, etc. I'm not complaining so much about the schools; as I said in the OP they act as a safety net. They somewhat mitigate against parental negligence.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2019, 01:49:22 PM by Nick_Miller »

haflander

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As icky as it sounds, I think the real issue at hand is that poor/uneducated people have way more kids than do educated and those earning in the upper class. I'm not even going to bother looking up the data, isn't it universally accepted at this point? Anyway, that leads to situations like free lunches, more handouts, etc. I'm there with you, something about that doesn't feel right to me either. Similar to the other debate/thread about forgiving student loans. Like, you should pay for the choices you made. I get it and feel the same way often.

But, Idk the solution. Nazis and Americans (not that long ago) favored eugenics, and I sure af don't support that.

Another thing to consider...What do you think is the best way for these kids to grow up and be productive members of society? Free lunch or being hungry? Does a free lunch program result in a culture of welfare queens? Hypothetical question, I don't claim to know the answer or even have an opinion really.

For me it's simple. What's the desired goal? Productive and educated and independent adults? Well, how do we best achieve that? Then, you can work out the details, such as these govt programs.

Nick_Miller

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Nick - what are the demographics of your area?

Specifically:
Average and median income
COL - high or low?
White, black, Hispanic, other?
Primarily English speaking or ESL?
White or blue collar?
What's the homelessness rate?
What's the unemployment rate?

I encourage you to dig a bit into the economic realities of your largish mid-western city's urban school district, and not just you and your direct neighbors. Because schools don't get that status without economic reality behind it.  The fact that your children are in schools that aren't 100% free lunch tells me that you may be isolated from the true reality of your area, so you're likely operating with incomplete information.

See my post above for some of this info. We are a pretty diverse city, 70% white, 20% African American, 10% Latinx or Asian American

You don't think it's a little nuts that 70% or so of families are viewed as not being able to feed their kids without some sort of significant economic hardship?

See, to be honest, even as a pretty progressive guy, I see this as the progressives' big blind spot. Nowadays, it's become unacceptable to point out that people share at least SOME responsibility for their current situations. Yes, I totally agree there is white privilege, and I know there's an uneven playing field in education, the workforce, etc. BUT don't we need to really take a hard look at why a majority of families struggle to feed their kids? Is it because of too many unintended pregnancies? Does that mean more sex ed and more access to contraceptives? Do some people feel "entitled" to have kids even when they realize they are going to struggle mightily to pay for them, and thus acknowledge that others of us will be footing some of that bill?

I view this differently than health care, which can totally bankrupt someone through a horrible accident or disease that might never could have been prevented. But when you have kids and can't afford food for them...I mean crap, the government HAS to step in, but why are people putting government in this position in the first place?
« Last Edit: August 13, 2019, 01:58:09 PM by Nick_Miller »

Philociraptor

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I guess I just think you shouldn't have kids unless you can afford to feed them and clothe them...

And my main gripe is NOT that students are necessarily feeding the kids, it's that SO many families apparently qualify for these programs in the first place!

Humans have a few primary drives, sex being one of them. People are going to have sex, and therefore are going to have children; quite often being able to afford them doesn't factor into that equation. Universal access to sex education, birth control, and abortion services would go a long way, but Americans are split on those things.

Kids that aren't hungry do better in school. As of 2018 about 12% of households in the US were using SNAP benefits. If 60%+ of the students in a school qualify, the median income in those schools is likely quite low. It may seem outrageous to you that so many qualify, but you are likely in a relatively low-income area (well, not you in particular, but the city).

Nick_Miller

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I think I know how the Republicans on the board feel now. :)

Barbaebigode

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For reasons that can be discussed ad nauseam poor people have more kids. It's cheaper to feed the kids than to deal with the fallout of having millions of adults malnourished during their development years.


bacchi

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Yeah, there's no good solution for the current kids. They go hungry, and we save some money now; or they're fed, and we (likely) save a lot more money later.

Wanna know the real solution? Real jobs with real wages for their parents.

former player

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1.  The poor are always with us.
2.  An economically successful and morally civilised society doesn't leave its poor to starve.
3.  There will never be a perfect alignment of poor people and society's metric for helping poor people.
4.  Because the alignment is never perfect there will be constant change in the metric to better align it to need.
5.  That change will probably cycle between states of providing more help and of providing less help, and of being more effective or efficient and being less effective or efficient.
6.  If you think the system is wrong in any particular direction don't worry, sooner or later it will cycle around to your views.

Personally I would focus my concerns about education on how it is that after 12 years of compulsory full time education a significant proportion of the population leaves school functionally illiterate and innumerate.

MonkeyJenga

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See, to be honest, even as a pretty progressive guy, I see this as the progressives' big blind spot. Nowadays, it's become unacceptable to point out that people share at least SOME responsibility for their current situations. Yes, I totally agree there is white privilege, and I know there's an uneven playing field in education, the workforce, etc. BUT don't we need to really take a hard look at why a majority of families struggle to feed their kids? Is it because of too many unintended pregnancies? Does that mean more sex ed and more access to contraceptives? Do some people feel "entitled" to have kids even when they realize they are going to struggle mightily to pay for them, and thus acknowledge that others of us will be footing some of that bill?

I view this differently than health care, which can totally bankrupt someone through a horrible accident or disease that might never could have been prevented. But when you have kids and can't afford food for them...I mean crap, the government HAS to step in, but why are people putting government in this position in the first place?

If you feel more sex ed and access to contraceptives would help (and I agree), then I'm not sure why you're placing the blame on progressives here. They're in favor of those things. You believe the government has a duty to feed the kids, so what policies exactly are you arguing against?

Also, yeah, people are entitled to have kids. What is the alternative? Make people get a permit declaring income and net worth? There are plenty of people who are entitled to vote despite putting no thought into it, doesn't mean I want to bring back literacy tests. There are also probably parents who were economically stable, and then something happened over the course of 18 years that meant their kids qualified.

Since you compared this to health care: should we pay for other people's choices? Someone who smokes all their life and gets lung cancer? Drinks and gets liver disease? Car crash injuries due to not wearing a seatbelt?

Cassie

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Two parent families may be able to afford 2 kids so they have them. Then they divorce, Dad skips town not paying child support and mom’s job makes her and kids poor. Or one parent loses a job through illness, disability, etc and they are poor.  As a former social worker many unexpected things happen to families.

Wrenchturner

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In thinking about this from the parents perspective: it seems to me that people don't take pride in taking responsibility anymore, and it's because you're not supposed to shame people for being irresponsible.  Which is sort of the implication.

So you might as well jump on the entitlement bandwagon I guess, lest you be a sucker who's paying for the entitlement.  It drives an "I got mine" mentality.

This is always the moral hazard of socialist policies: enabling grifters at the expense of everyone else, but especially at the expense of those who really need x.


Candace

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If you want to do something to encourage people to put off having kids until they can support those kids, then I suggest you support candidates who would make effective birth control widely available to women and girls for free. And when I say support those candidates, I mean give them money and vote for them. I would be happy if every high school nurse could perform the procedure to put a Norplant in the arm of any teenage girl who wants one. I would be happy if any girl or young woman who wants an IUD (they're safe now!) could get one put in for free at a doctor's office, and have it replaced when appropriate as well. That way when boys and girls inevitably have sex -- there's no way to get them to stop -- they at least won't end up with babies they can't support. (STDs are a separate, though related, matter.)

I'm normally very lefty, and this is the way I feel about this issue. I could get accused of being right-wing about it, but that's fine; I think I'm talking from both logic and compassion.

There's no way to get people to stop having sex.

Unprotected sex makes babies. Sometimes these are babies people would rather put off if they put any thought into the matter.

Poor people often feel a sense of hopelessness that can keep them from taking reasonable defensive actions, such as getting birth control. BUT, if girls in poor schools were encouraged to, more of them might do it, if someone asks them sincerely whether they want a baby soon, and they say no. Without intervention, they just think that's the expected path for them, because they see it all around them.

Most people really, really want babies in general, sometime while they're of appropriate age. This is true whether or not they can afford them. It's a basic human drive. People will definitely have those babies whether or not they can support them. We can whine about it, but if we're smart, we'll take societal action to minimize the number of *accidentally made* babies.

Whether or not it's fair, the burden of birth control falls on women. (Spoiler: it's not fair.)

Lots of kids don't want to talk to their parents about sex. I know many parents believe it's their right to approve any medical decisions on behalf of their kids, but I believe an exception should be made for underage kids who want birth control and don't want to talk to their parents. I remember how *I* was at that age, and I wasn't even poor. (It's a miracle I didn't get pregnant in high school.)

So, if you want to reduce the number of poor kids, *one* of the ways to do it is to offer free, easily available birth control to *at least* the poor kids, and preferably to *all* the kids to avoid problems all along the socioeconomic spectrum. Yes, it will cost money, but it will cost a lot less than the cost to society of so many people having kids before they really want them.

But for heaven's sake, don't look at kids who get free lunches and think that all those parents wouldn't feed their kids. Probably a large majority would skimp on other things to put food on the table. Things like the electric bill. Things like paying for their own prescriptions.

Lastly: getting grouchy helps nothing. Take some small action. Call your state legislator. Write to the governor. Look at organizations who can help, and give them your time and/or your money.

I appreciate that you want kids to eat. But let's look past the problem right under your nose, toward the root of the problems, and try to help people fix the problems and make their lives better.

/rant

Nick_Miller

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See, to be honest, even as a pretty progressive guy, I see this as the progressives' big blind spot. Nowadays, it's become unacceptable to point out that people share at least SOME responsibility for their current situations. Yes, I totally agree there is white privilege, and I know there's an uneven playing field in education, the workforce, etc. BUT don't we need to really take a hard look at why a majority of families struggle to feed their kids? Is it because of too many unintended pregnancies? Does that mean more sex ed and more access to contraceptives? Do some people feel "entitled" to have kids even when they realize they are going to struggle mightily to pay for them, and thus acknowledge that others of us will be footing some of that bill?

I view this differently than health care, which can totally bankrupt someone through a horrible accident or disease that might never could have been prevented. But when you have kids and can't afford food for them...I mean crap, the government HAS to step in, but why are people putting government in this position in the first place?

If you feel more sex ed and access to contraceptives would help (and I agree), then I'm not sure why you're placing the blame on progressives here. They're in favor of those things. You believe the government has a duty to feed the kids, so what policies exactly are you arguing against?

Also, yeah, people are entitled to have kids. What is the alternative? Make people get a permit declaring income and net worth? There are plenty of people who are entitled to vote despite putting no thought into it, doesn't mean I want to bring back literacy tests. There are also probably parents who were economically stable, and then something happened over the course of 18 years that meant their kids qualified.

Since you compared this to health care: should we pay for other people's choices? Someone who smokes all their life and gets lung cancer? Drinks and gets liver disease? Car crash injuries due to not wearing a seatbelt?

Yep we totally agree about more sex ed and access to contraceptives. No argument there. And no I don't blame progressives for that part at all.

You're right about the voting thing too. No I am not advocating for gov't tests for having kids or voting. BUT...I am strongly advocating for people to take these things a hell of a lot more seriously than they do!! Is that too much to ask?

When you see generation after generation of families make the SAME dumb choices...you start to wonder, "When does it get better? What generation steps up to break the cycle?" As a poster pointed out above, even a lot of high school graduates are...well, I'll be charitable and say "woefully ill-equipped for a successful life." Whose fault is that? Schools can't do everything! If parents don't prioritize education, few kids are determined enough to get their on their own.

So yeah...I am blaming the loads of irresponsible parents. I absolutely am. I worked in schools for a while. Hell, I was a prosecutor too. I've been on the front lines of things. I've seen a lot of really stupid people with really crappy upbringings, and guess what, most of these folks had kids that I fear are destined for the same thing. And they can't even feed them.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2019, 03:30:13 PM by Nick_Miller »

Candace

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OP: please do a little reading on the cycle of poverty and why it persists.

I would love for everyone to take their life by its short ones and guide it in exactly the right direction.

When everyone around you models hopelessness and lack of proactiveness, most people will pretty much go with expectations as they see them. Then their kids will do the same.

It's a very difficult problem, without a single solution.

MrsWolfeRN

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The qualification cutoff in my town is a few thousand more than my family spends per year. That means my kids would qualify if I chose to work fewer hours, let investments grow, and have more time to spend with them. I wouldn't need or necessarily even want to take the free lunch but I wouldn't lie about my income if I were asked .

Of course In that situation I would also have a lot more time to pack sack lunches than a parent with the same income working twice as many hours at some low wage job.

In general, free lunch doesn't bother me. What bothers me more is that schools try to restrict what kind of food you can pack for your kid.

« Last Edit: August 13, 2019, 05:45:11 PM by MrsWolfeRN »

Sugaree

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I'm firmly in the "feed all the kids regardless" camp.  A year and a half ago, we were classified as homeless for most of spring semester and the beginning of the following fall semester.  My son's guidance councilor offered to have us put on free lunch, but I had already paid for the rest of the year by that point and didn't see the point.  Would I care if other people made a different choice?  Nope.  Not my life.  I do what I have to do and you do you.  Things happen.  People get sick.  People lose their jobs.  People get pregnant.  Sometimes on purpose and sometime on accident.  And the people who can least afford to have a (nother) child are the same ones who have a thousand hurdles in their way to prevent it or deal with it.

Bloop Bloop

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A good policy solution (but not one that would ever work in America, since y'all are so religious) would be to pay people (a small amount, say $500) to have abortions. You'd need a lifetime limit of 1 or 2 payments under this policy, obviously, to stop people 'gaming' it, and the money ought to be paid back if the recipient has a child within say 3 years of receiving the payment. The policy would do a lot to give prospective parents the financial and regulatory freedom to ask themselves, "Am I really capable of supporting the kid I'm about to have?"

Bloop Bloop

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I also don't get why people have so many unplanned kids.  Even if you're hellbent on not using a condom, the rhythm method has a 10-20% failure rate per year, when used correctly, and the withdrawal method (pee before sex, only 1x ejaculation per session so that sperm doesn't linger in the urethra) has a 5% failure rate and even when used 'imperfectly in practice' has a 10-20% failure rate per year. Combine the two methods and your average failure rate would be 1-4% per year. It's not brain surgery to not have children. And obviously condoms are quite cheap if you want a proper contraceptive method.

MonkeyJenga

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See, to be honest, even as a pretty progressive guy, I see this as the progressives' big blind spot. Nowadays, it's become unacceptable to point out that people share at least SOME responsibility for their current situations. Yes, I totally agree there is white privilege, and I know there's an uneven playing field in education, the workforce, etc. BUT don't we need to really take a hard look at why a majority of families struggle to feed their kids? Is it because of too many unintended pregnancies? Does that mean more sex ed and more access to contraceptives? Do some people feel "entitled" to have kids even when they realize they are going to struggle mightily to pay for them, and thus acknowledge that others of us will be footing some of that bill?

I view this differently than health care, which can totally bankrupt someone through a horrible accident or disease that might never could have been prevented. But when you have kids and can't afford food for them...I mean crap, the government HAS to step in, but why are people putting government in this position in the first place?

If you feel more sex ed and access to contraceptives would help (and I agree), then I'm not sure why you're placing the blame on progressives here. They're in favor of those things. You believe the government has a duty to feed the kids, so what policies exactly are you arguing against?

Also, yeah, people are entitled to have kids. What is the alternative? Make people get a permit declaring income and net worth? There are plenty of people who are entitled to vote despite putting no thought into it, doesn't mean I want to bring back literacy tests. There are also probably parents who were economically stable, and then something happened over the course of 18 years that meant their kids qualified.

Since you compared this to health care: should we pay for other people's choices? Someone who smokes all their life and gets lung cancer? Drinks and gets liver disease? Car crash injuries due to not wearing a seatbelt?

Yep we totally agree about more sex ed and access to contraceptives. No argument there. And no I don't blame progressives for that part at all.

You're right about the voting thing too. No I am not advocating for gov't tests for having kids or voting. BUT...I am strongly advocating for people to take these things a hell of a lot more seriously than they do!! Is that too much to ask?

When you see generation after generation of families make the SAME dumb choices...you start to wonder, "When does it get better? What generation steps up to break the cycle?" As a poster pointed out above, even a lot of high school graduates are...well, I'll be charitable and say "woefully ill-equipped for a successful life." Whose fault is that? Schools can't do everything! If parents don't prioritize education, few kids are determined enough to get their on their own.

So yeah...I am blaming the loads of irresponsible parents. I absolutely am. I worked in schools for a while. Hell, I was a prosecutor too. I've been on the front lines of things. I've seen a lot of really stupid people with really crappy upbringings, and guess what, most of these folks had kids that I fear are destined for the same thing. And they can't even feed them.

Okay, blame the parents. It's not gonna do anything. You know that. If you want to vent about shitty situations that you've seen kids put in, you can. I would point my finger at both societal causes and individual parents, but pointing my finger isn't gonna do anything, either.

People do things that I don't like all the time. They buy giant wasteful houses and drive cars around all day long and buy tiny water bottles that hold 3 sips of water and then get thrown on the side of the road. They steal money from their citizens and get away with it. They take away freedoms. They put children in cages.

When there are things that I can change, I try to change them. We've all vented about people making dumb decisions. But providing lunch to kids who might not otherwise get a consistent healthy meal is very low on my list of concerns.

I also don't get why people have so many unplanned kids.  Even if you're hellbent on not using a condom, the rhythm method has a 10-20% failure rate per year, when used correctly, and the withdrawal method (pee before sex, only 1x ejaculation per session so that sperm doesn't linger in the urethra) has a 5% failure rate and even when used 'imperfectly in practice' has a 10-20% failure rate per year. Combine the two methods and your average failure rate would be 1-4% per year. It's not brain surgery to not have children. And obviously condoms are quite cheap if you want a proper contraceptive method.

Um, a 4% failure rate is pretty terrible if you're trying to get pregnant less than once a year...

Bloop Bloop

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It's per year. Those failure rates are per year.

MonkeyJenga

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Gotcha. That's still a lot of people left to get pregnant, and it's not like teenagers are being taught the rhythm method. I'm in my 30's and I couldn't tell you when I'm ovulating! Relying on some guy to pull out in time is also incredibly risky.

It should be easy, in theory, to avoid unplanned pregnancies. This is assuming an ideal world with easily accessible, cheap/free methods of effective birth control, proper sex ed, parents who won't kick their kids out of the house if they find condoms, hormonal birth control that doesn't play havoc with your body, no protesters attacking anyone who accesses a women's health clinic, etc etc.

And it's not like all of these kids getting subsidized lunches were unplanned or unwanted.

Zamboni

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People will have sex. People want to have children. But, as time passes in the US, fewer and fewer people have any savings. That means they are financially insecure which leads to food insecurity.

Having grown up in a school similar to the ones you describe, I am very grateful that the free school food programs exist. I agree with you that kids should eat . . . we had a school provided mid-morning snack as well. Many of my neighbors were very hard working, just for the record, and they were still fairly poor due to a variety of reasons. Free lunch programs and lazy/irresponsible parents don't correlate as directly as you would like to think.

Did you know that in Japan, most schools have the ingredients on hand but the students prepare the food for all of the other students? They take turns doing it. They also tend to have a system of the students cleaning the classrooms and school grounds each day so they don't need janitors . . . something different than our society.

teen persuasion

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This thread premise is so bizarre!

Being financially eligible for free or reduced lunches doesn't mean you don't  feed your kids.  It just means your family income is below some $$ figure relevant to the number of people in your household.

There are other programs tied to eligibility for free/reduced lunches, especially having to do with college and financial aid.  If you are eligible for free/reduced lunches, you can also get a waiver to take the SAT for free.  Some colleges waive their application fees.  On the FAFSA, being eligible for free/reduced lunches is one of the conditions for qualifying for either the Simplified Needs Test (assets do not need to be reported) at AGI < $50k, or Auto zero EFC at AGI < $26k currently.  Just hitting those AGI won't work; you need both conditions to qualify.

So for mustachians maxing out retirement accounts while living frugally, filing for free/reduced lunches materially increases college financial aid by reducing the EFC (the calculation adds back retirement contributions to AGI, artificially inflating disposable income). 

The lunches are merely a side effect, which my kids were ambivalent about - they were just as likely to pack a lunch that they wanted to eat from my well-stocked pantry and fridge.

I also have a niggling idea that a higher ratio of students receiving free/reduced lunches is good for a school district's funding.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2019, 08:24:25 PM by teen persuasion »

calimom

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I'm a pretty left-leaning, personal responsibility believing single parent who's spent the better part of the past decade and a half making school lunches or making sure there were good choices for the kids to take to school. Likely we would have qualified for the subsidy but I never explored it. The options for the school lunch are so shitty and unhealthy, that unless it was pizza day or something, I and my offspring preferred to bring food from home. And I'm glad free lunches exist.

When you look at school lunch pictorials from around the globe, the US pales in comparison. It's embarrassing.  A truly radical idea would be to take the funds we as a society now pay to provide crap food and redirect it to make healthy, interesting lunches available to ALL students, with the children taking ownership of helping (with major direction and resources of course) the growing, preparing and serving of the food. Environmentally it's a win. Think of all the plastic and waste that goes into some take from home choices: Lunchables, plastic bags, potato chip and cookie bags, water bottles and so on.

Our country is ready for a reboot in how we feed millions of children every day.

cloudsail

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A least you're not experiencing the same thing as my friend, whose son sees his schoolmates that are getting free lunches walking around with the newest iPhones.

SimpleCycle

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I know this is not the point, but you are making up your statistics.  There is not a public school district in the Midwest with 100k students.  Chicago has 400k, and then Columbus, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan with just about 50k students each.  I could be missing something in my definition of Midwest, but I really can’t think of the district you are talking about.

Overall, about 50% of students nationwide qualify for free and reduced lunch.  By contrast, child poverty is 17.5%.  So a large part of this is that the school lunch program is fairly generous as subsidies go.  We tend to err on the side of caution when the consequence is child hunger, and I think that’s pretty reasonable.

Surely you’re not suggesting that half of all children are born to parents too irresponsible to deserve children?  I personally think there should be more support for families raising children, not less.  For some reason in our society we’ve undertaken a massive wealth transfer from young to old, meaning a family earning $25k, just under the poverty level for a family of 4, will pay over $1900 in taxes to support Social Security and Medicare.  Due to the support of social security, only 9.3% of people 65+ are poor, yet we blame our high rates of child poverty on the economic choices of the parents.

Hula Hoop

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I also think you're missing the point.  The free lunches are meant to be financial aid for families with incomes below a certain level.  I'm sure that most of these families could afford to send lunch for their kids but this is a social welfare initiative for families with low incomes. 

Nick_Miller

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@SimpleCycle  I live in a real city. You can doubt me if you wish, as I can hardly stop you from doing so. I'll leave it at that.

@calimom Those are interesting ideas, and yeah actually teaching kids food prep, cooking, more about where food comes from, how it's transported, plus manners and dining etiquette, perhaps even how to have discussions over a meal, would provide for great learning opportunities.

I feel like I am repeating myself on the main point but I'll say it once more and then I am done.

I don't mind the schools doing this at all. I am a big advocate for public schools. We all know that they fill in the gaps that might otherwise go unfilled. Teachers have a special place in my heart; they put up with more shit for less money than I ever would dream of doing. I'm just disheartened that SO many families are in the position to need help (or be viewed as needing it).I don't claim to have the solution, but when you see families repeat the same behavior generation after generation, clearly a new approach is needed to break the wheel. The status quo ain't working.

« Last Edit: August 14, 2019, 03:53:41 AM by Nick_Miller »

MasterStache

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This thread reminds me of the Circle of Control post.

In the grand scheme of things, as long as kids are being fed in school, who cares how it is accomplished?

YoungGranny

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It's really hard to break out of the socioeconomic class you were born into. If so many people are using these programs is it because we don't pay working adults enough to support a family? Maybe it's because I lean towards being a liberal now but I think the gap between the highest earning Americans and middle-income America is way too large and there seems to be a correlation with the achievement gap in schools between wealthy and poor students. ~20% of children live in poverty, but only 5% of children have at least one unemployed parent. How can we help lift working people out of poverty? Education always seems to be the default answer given, and children have to eat to learn. However I read a book recently talking about how we push fixing education over poverty and that's a backward approach because when people aren't in survival mode, education comes more naturally. Perhaps paying their parents a living wage and providing free public personal finance classes would be a start.

Also, more inner-city, urban schools started offering free lunch to 100% of students to offset the stigma that was attached with taking a free lunch. In my old high school 77% of kids qualified for a free lunch, keeping in mind that wealthier people in the district typically self-selected out of the school district for a "better" public school or private school which does skew the data. It's tough when our cities and therefore schools remain heavily segregated.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2019, 07:09:28 AM by YoungGranny »

GuitarStv

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So, the way that I try to look at these situations is a cost benefit analysis.


My kid is going to school.  My kid needs to learn while he's there.  If several of the kids around him are acting out/misbehaving/being disruptive and preventing this because they can't concentrate due to hunger . . . that's defeating the whole purpose of my kid being in school.  My tax dollars are paying for all of the kids to go to school so they can become educated and productive members of society.  If they can't become educated due to hunger, that's wasting a tremendous amount of my money.

So feeding any kid who is hungry sounds like a great idea.

Will some people take advantage of this program even if they could very well feed their own kids?  Probably.  Is the cost of food outweighing the total societal costs of having a large percentage of kids go hungry?  Probably not.  Seems like money well spent then.

J Boogie

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Also, more inner-city, urban schools started offering free lunch to 100% of students to offset the stigma that was attached with taking a free lunch.

This is huge.

In addition to hunger being a major distraction for learning, feelings of shame and inferiority are a major distraction for learning (in addition to being awful things for a child to potentially feel).

I generally lean to the right but when it comes to kids and free school lunches I'm all for it. Hard to believe, but there are schools that go out of their way to use meal debt shame as a tactic.

https://www.eater.com/2019/5/22/18634237/lunch-shaming-students-meal-debt-american-schools

bacchi

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However I read a book recently talking about how we push fixing education over poverty and that's a backward approach because when people aren't in survival mode, education comes more naturally. Perhaps paying their parents a living wage and providing free public personal finance classes would be a start.

A recent article in The Atlantic, "Better Schools Won’t Fix America," discusses this: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/07/education-isnt-enough/590611/

Quote from: theatlantic
We have confused a symptom—educational inequality—with the underlying disease: economic inequality. Schooling may boost the prospects of individual workers, but it doesn’t change the core problem, which is that the bottom 90 percent is divvying up a shrinking share of the national wealth.


tl;dr Better schools follow better wages.

Cassie

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This country wasted a ton of money giving tax cuts to the wealthy. I think all schools should have free lunch for everyone to cut the stigma. 

Milizard

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I'm a moderate. Back about 10 years ago, there was a controversy in my state about college students getting food stamps. I was perfectly fine with that, because the government cut it's funding of college so much as to make the costs skyrocket.  Of course, the Republicans in charge changed the law so as to exclude most college students from SNAP. Can't let someone eat for free!

Now,  some of those students really didn't need the help, but I think it was probably helpful even for the middle class students.  Anyway, I may complain about what foods are allowed for purchase under that program, but I don't have a problem of people taking advantage of it when they qualify. Businesses look for any programs that may help them, and we call that good business sense.  Not sure why there's a different standard for individuals.

Now, as far as poor people having kids they can't afford, I think it's wrong. My old BFF was one such person. Desperately wanted to make babies, but couldn't support them without government help, plus wasn't much of a mother, either.  There's always going to be poor people with this mindset.  I don't think there are that many more of them, there are just a lot less middle class people's offspring around to counteract it.  We need to encourage the responsible middle class parents to have a few more children, by making it easier for them to do so. That's what this country could do to help the problem.  Allow all childcare costs to be tax deductible, for starts. More family paid leave. Perhaps shorter work weeks, or better/cheaper programs for children after school and during the summer. 

mm1970

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Hmmm... here are my comments, in no particular order.

1.  My kids get free lunch.  They both attend schools were the % of students who are eligible is high.  That's not necessarily why they get free lunch.  Several years ago, the district started giving free lunch to all students at a few schools with mostly poor kids.  Then they decided to add schools to the list every year.  At this point, all elementary schools in our district except for 3 out of 13 or 14 get free lunch, and 2 of the 4 junior high schools.  Everyone gets free breakfast.

2.  I fully support this.  Kids who are fed learn better.  Period.

3.  I think all kids deserve an education.  My kids attend schools with students who are homeless, foster kids, living in cars, living with multiple families.  One of my son's classmates was sleeping on the floor, no bed, until recently when the housing authority found his family a SFH, but pretty much only because his mother was murdered by her boyfriend and his grandparents had no room for the kids.

4.  If you want to ask why "people don't feed their own kids, or think about that before they have kids", you are asking the wrong question.  While certainly, there are some people who just don't think things through, there are thousands (millions?) who do.  I know many of them - divorced.  Dad ran off.  Former military folks who can't find a job.  Families working 2 jobs but housing eats up too much of it.  Layoffs.  What should my college roommate have done with her 16, 13, and 10 year old daughters when her husband was laid off and they couldn't afford food?  Even with SNAP everyone in the family lost weight, the girls dangerously so - and they had a farm with chickens!

I'm in the middle of reading "Nickle and Dimed".  Old book, sadly still relevant.  People assume that layoffs will never happen to them.  People don't realize HOW MANY people end up working for minimum wage.  There are newer books that discuss the same issues.

On a side note, we had a conversation about poverty this week. Apparently kid #2 told people at camp that we have a Lamborghini.  Kid #1 said "you think he even knows what that is?"  Anyway.  Kid #1 thinks we are poor.  We are not going to disabuse him.  At his school, most kids ARE poor.  And as it is 85-90% Latinx, most of the Latinx kids think that all the white kids are rich.  Which isn't a far out statement.  Middle class for many of them.

I know a lot of these people.  They are not lazy.  They don't hate family planning.  But a lot of them are poor.  They don't have as much access to birth control, and a lot of them are Catholic.  Their culture is based on having children and I know this culture, having been raised Catholic (I am the 8th of 9 children, and we were poor!)  My family was too proud to take any kind of welfare, but there were times when we ran out of food.

As long as a reasonable % of jobs in this country pay shitty, we are going to have these issues.  You can't just tell people who have these jobs to not have kids, and you have to recognize that a lot of people already have kids when things go south.

So, there you are.  My kids eat free lunch.  There is literally no way for us to pay for their lunch at school.

six-car-habit

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We live in a school district where free lunch is provided to all students, based on the average income of the community. Each year we get a form to fill out, asking our income. We would be over the threshold for free lunch based on our income if the meals were split between free + pay.

  When we moved here, kindergarden was provided 1/2 day, ---when our kid started kindergarden it had been moved up to full day. This helped us out in terms of being able to keep "full time" work hours, as both parents work.  We probably have a nicer house than many and therefore, pay more real estate taxes, therefore put more towards the schools budget.

 Most days we pack a lunch , but we will let child pick a day each week to eat the school provided lunch, based on which day she likes the menu. She has a friend who brings lunch often - it usually consists of : peanut butter + jelly sandwich , some sort of frito-lay brand chips, and two desserts, along with a [10%] juice box. The school lunch is better nutritionally than what the friend brings from home....

MayDay

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We live I a metro area where some districts feed everyone and some are the standard system where you have to apply for free/reduced.

If my district put out a bond to pay for free breakfast and lunch for all kids, I would vote for it.

Many time the very families that need F/R lunch are the ones incapable of filling out the paperwork either due to language barriers, fear of immigration issues, mental illness, disability, or general instability at home that precludes filling out forms.

My number one priority is all kids coming to school ready to learn and food is too if that list (of things the school can control).

Ideally people wouldn't have kids they can't feed. But also keep in mind that the qualifying income is sometimes actually quite high, certainly LMC. The point isn't "if this family gave up absolutely everything else could they feed their kids". It is "can this family use some help so we make sure their kids have plenty of food".

We qualified for WIC when my kids were little and my H was laid off. We could have used money from savings but we chose to accept any aid we qualified for (WIC and UI) and keep savings for as long as possible. I also got a part time job I could take a baby and toddler too, so that my H could job hunt as effectively as possible. 
« Last Edit: August 17, 2019, 07:25:02 AM by MayDay »

moonpalace

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I guess I just think you shouldn't have kids unless you can afford to feed them and clothe them. Maybe that makes me a moderate these days, I dunno. I know on Twitter I feel like freaking Republican sometimes. *cringes*

Nick, as just one example, I had my first kid when I was a law student. At the time my wife was working at a relatively low-paying job. We qualified for various government programs. That does not at all lead to the conclusion that I couldn’t “afford to feed and clothe” him. I could. I worked my a$$ off, grew a ton of food in a garden, shopped in thrift stores. And yes, also accepted some government beans and cheese and milk. Kid wasn’t old enough at that point to be in school, but if he had been he definitely would’ve gotten free lunch.

The position that low-income people shouldn’t have kids is *way* to the right of moderate. I’d say it’s somewhere between Republican and “just plain offensive.” Closer to the latter.

Wrenchturner

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I appreciate the pragmatism of the state feeding all the kids, but I can't help but shake the defeatist nature of it.  Surely we can promote personal and familial responsibility without denigrating those in need of help.  How can that happen?  I'm asking for suggestions.

This can be expanded more generally into other policies as well.  Having children when you shouldn't, drug use, etc.

Of course the cycle of poverty is tragic but policies like this do contribute to them in part.

My skepticism of harm reduction comes from the understanding that--at some point--a drug addict needs to make a personal choice to quit.   There is no other way out.  So it follows that safe injection sites, for instance, enable addicts who might otherwise force themselves to quit over the risks they're taking.  I don't see how externalizing those risks makes the world better, it simply moves the tragedy around(needles in parks, homelessness and infectious diseases) to places where we don't directly see it.  And it facilitates growth of the pathology.

I'm sure this will seem barbaric in the face of a hungry child but I don't think we're getting this entirely right as a society.

Wrenchturner

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An argument could be made that children from irresponsible parents SHOULD struggle, as it directly forces incentive for the parents to prioritize their well being.  And it would drive the people around that child to put pressure on the parents, when they're wondering why that child isn't eating.   Maybe the other kids at the table would learn a lesson about gratitude and sharing, as they would invariably help out. 

The state intervening also interferes with this social truth-seeking and substitutes it with a panacea.  It destroys the pursuit of merit.

If any of you are familiar with anti fragility  (nassim taleb), you'll know that our challenges are the things that make us stronger. 

I'm sure this is contentious but I'd rather lay out my thoughts and have them torn up.  In the interest of anti fragility. 

(I don't have kids in case that wasn't readily apparent)

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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We live I a metro area where some districts feed everyone and some are the standard system where you have to apply for free/reduced.

If my district put out a bond to pay for free breakfast and lunch for all kids, I would vote for it.

Many time the very families that need F/R lunch are the ones incapable of filling out the paperwork either due to language barriers, fear of immigration issues, mental illness, disability, or general instability at home that precludes filling out forms.

My number one priority is all kids coming to school ready to learn and food is too if that list (of things the school can control).

Ideally people wouldn't have kids they can't feed. But also keep in mind that the qualifying income is sometimes actually quite high, certainly LMC. The point isn't "if this family gave up absolutely everything else could they feed their kids". It is "can this family use some help so we make sure their kids have plenty of food".

We qualified for WIC when my kids were little and my H was laid off. We could have used money from savings but we chose to accept any aid we qualified for (WIC and UI) and keep savings for as long as possible. I also got a part time job I could take a baby and toddler too, so that my H could job hunt as effectively as possible.

So much this. For a couple of years, I qualified for some stuff. Reduced price lunch for the kiddos, which also qualified me for charity internet service. Colorado Indigent Care Program (didn't qualify for Medicaid, but this let me pay only $140 for an ER visit instead of the $2500 it was going to cost on my HDHP).

But the thing is, I wasn't really "poor." I was a middle class overeducated white woman in straitened circumstances. I could navigate all that paperwork. When I was 15 minutes late to a meeting to apply for CICP because I couldn't figure out where to park, they cancelled the meeting and made me come back. (Never mind that they had blocked a whole hour and it only took 15 minutes.) This was a problem, but not a huge one because I had my own car, which my wealthy grandfather bought me when I got divorced because he worried about my '99 Honda Accord. If I was a person living in poverty but also having grown up in an impoverished background with family members who were also poor, it would have been so much harder to keep all those balls in the air. I never noticed my privilege so much as when I didn't have money.

Cassie

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Wrench, when kids are hungry they cannot concentrate in school and learn. They become behavior problems. When I was a social worker 2 kids on my caseload were born normal and had IQ’s below 70 from lack of food. By the time we took the kids away the negative effects were permanent.  I think you lack empathy. I would see my clients if they were late because of all the barriers they faced just getting to appointments.

MonkeyJenga

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Maybe the other kids at the table would learn a lesson about gratitude and sharing, as they would invariably help out. 

Interesting that you approve of kids learning the value of gratitude and sharing and helping out those less fortunate. But you think adults are exempt from this lesson? Did you learn that lesson?

Many people in this thread can attest to the fact that, no, kids will not "invariably" help out by giving up some of their own lunch.

Wrenchturner

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Wrench, when kids are hungry they cannot concentrate in school and learn. They become behavior problems. When I was a social worker 2 kids on my caseload were born normal and had IQ’s below 70 from lack of food. By the time we took the kids away the negative effects were permanent.  I think you lack empathy. I would see my clients if they were late because of all the barriers they faced just getting to appointments.
What type of government social structure would you suggest that we build in order to prevent the circumstance you described?  Do we start issuing food to children at the time of birth?  At some point this becomes untenable.  At some point the responsibility of caring for children lies on the parents, and not the state.