From Azi Paybarah: “U.S. agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack came to New York City and said free breakfasts should be offered in the classroom so kids who are seen walking to the free breakfast program in their schools’ cafeteria aren’t stigmatized as poor.” [Mara Gay]
Now that’s just plain stupid. They are poor and so are most of their neighbors. After a half century of Great Social anti-poverty programs, suddenly there’s a stigma attached to accepting free breakfast/lunch in school. C’mon, Secretary Vilsack we’re not idiots.
Readers should know that the city piloted Breakfast in the Classroom in 381 schools because many of the eligible students wouldn’t show up for the early morning free breakfast available in the school cafeteria. Policymakers believed many students avoided the free breakfast in fear of the social stigma. A fear that Secretary Vilsack ignorantly repeated.
The kids didn’t go to the early morning free breakfast because they and their parents were too lazy to get up at 6 AM in order for the government to fill their bellies. So, of course, the doo-good folks, such as the Community Service Society hit upon accommodating people too lazy to help themselves. No wonder some taxpayers just above (100%) the poverty line resent government.
Apparently, no one cares about the ineligible kids forced to watch their poorer classmates snack on waffles and fruit during the morning essay. Resentment (and bullying) rather than stigma could be the result.
Mind you, after luring record numbers of city families onto the food stamps rolls, the Bloomberg administration petitioned the federal government to restrict the purchase of soda and sugary drinks by SNAP recipients. Fortunately, Secretary Vilsack rejected that request in 2011.
In this instance, the city is right to reject the Breakfast in the Classroom program. Likewise, Secretary Vilsack should reject the silly notion of social stigmatization associated with a free breakfast.
- Only Half Of Kids Eligible For School Breakfast Program Are Receiving It (thinkprogress.org)
- Hands Off Mom’s Breasts (MichaelBenjamin2012 blog)