Fox News put the Republican war on school lunches into the spotlight on Thursday morning, and the discussion demonstrated just how heartless conservatives have become when it comes to hunger and children.
In response to a New Jersey school’s decision to punish kids for not having enough money to pay for a school meal by making them go hungry, Fox guest and supposed school counselor Thomas Kersting told Gretchen Carlson on Fox & Friends that it’s perfectly acceptable for a school to let a child go hungry as a consequence of the mistakes made by their parents.
Kersting called the school’s policy to “throw the meal away” if the child lacks the funds to purchase it a “teaching moment.”
“I agree with the superintendent. I think it’s a little harsh. You know, I don’t think they’re going to throw the food out right in front of the kid and embarrass the kid… I think it is misleading that the kids are going to be punished. We have more food than any other nation. You know, no kid is going to starve. You know, if one day a kid doesn’t have lunch, right, maybe that’s a teaching moment when that kid doesn’t have lunch. That may sound harsh saying that, but we’ve got to get people to start being responsible for themselves. I can tell you from almost 20 years working in a school district, they’re not going to make the kids starve. That’s just kind of like a big warning to the parents. And I have kids come to me, I give kids money all the time. And I’m broke from doing that over the years. No, I’m kidding.”
Here’s the video via Raw Story:
Hunger is not a joke and for a nation that supposedly has “more food than any other nation” there sure are a lot of hungry children in America. The idea that “no one is starving” is a big fat red herring. No, people are not starving to death in the streets but they’re hungry and malnourished. According to Feeding America, 16.7 million children lived in food insecure households in 2011. 31 million low-income children alone received free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program.
Additionally, lack of nutrition puts children at risk for illness and weakens their immune system, ” and as a result, the ability to learn, grow, and fight infections is adversely affected” and “are likely to be behind in their academic development compared to other children which ultimately makes it difficult for them to reach the same level of development as their fellow food secure peers.”
Studies show that children who are hungry have more difficulty concentrating in school and do not perform nearly as well as they could on a full stomach. Research also shows that brain growth is permanently affected by lack of nutrition. Health care costs also rise because hunger and malnutrition (again, not starving like the imbeciles talking heads of the right keep using as a distraction) causes illnesses.
Not caring about the hunger needs of children is one reason why American students are falling behind the rest of the world. It’s impossible to focus on learning when you have a constant grumble in your tummy. And for conservatives to support any policy that takes a meal away from a child is truly callous. It’s especially outrageous that a school counselor would advocate for such a thing. Any person in such a school position should know full well the affects of hunger on a child.
But this attitude also speaks to the hypocrisy and cruelty of the right-wing. Republicans say they are the party of personal responsibility, but they oppose allowing women to choose to end a pregnancy. Being personally responsible means being able to make your own personal decisions without interference by others. Why should women be forced to bring a child into the world if it will be raised in poverty and suffering? Furthermore, once a fetus is born, Republicans don’t give a damn about the child. 49% of babies born are to households that currently rely on food assistance such as SNAP and WIC. Earlier this summer, House Republicans eliminated food assistance from the Farm bill, meaning that children who are already hungry will be hungrier. Republicans are also waging war against food assistance in the states they control. Because hunger affects academic performance, many children will likely not have the education and skills necessary to get a well-paying job in the future. That ultimately affects the economy. In short, hunger affects us all and no one should be so heartless as to deny a child something to eat.