A lawmaker from West Virginia, on the heels of that state overwhelmingly passing a bill that enhances the affordability of school lunch programs, suggested a different route: Make the kids work for their lunches by doing janitorial and housekeeping duties.
Ray Canterbury (R-Greenbrier), in contrary to supporting The Feed to Achieve Act, which would establish non-profit organizations to collect private donations to go towards paying for the breakfasts and lunches for poor West Virginia students, offered the following alternative plan:
I think it would be a good idea if perhaps we had the kids work for their lunches: trash to be taken out, hallways to be swept, lawns to be mowed, make them earn it. If they miss a lunch or they miss a meal they might not, in that class that afternoon, learn to add, they may not learn to diagram a sentence, but they’ll learn a more important lesson.
Canterbury argued that the bill, which passed by an 89-9 margin, would “destroy their work ethic“, since the children would be getting free meals.
Democratic lawmaker Meshea Poore took offense at Canterbury’s proposal. She said:
I’m offended anybody in this body would dare say a child has to work for their meals. I can’t believe someone would say a first-grader, a second-grader … a fifth-grader has to labor before they eat. This isn’t an entitlement bill.
Indeed. Children already suffer enough emotionally and socially from being poor. Making them do janitorial and housekeeping work in order to eat is beyond insensitive, and further stigmatizes them. We think that Ray Canterbury is just another out of touch Republican who is “out to lunch” with this proposal.