Lee County Commissioner Kirk Smith voted this week for the county to formally apologize to state leaders for the school board’s recent decision to join a lawsuit against the state’s new private school voucher program.
The commissioners and Smith called the school board’s actions “embarrassing.”
Buried in The Sanford Herald’s report on this week’s joint meeting of the two boards is a comment Smith made when discussing the district’s participation in the federally subsidized reduced and free school lunch program. According to The Herald: “The only uproar came when … Smith wondered why schools didn’t just save money by providing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to low-income students on subsidized lunch programs — which in Lee County is two-thirds of the student body. Many in the audience reacted with gasps of outrage, and the topic was quickly changed.”
School districts are reimbursed by the National School Lunch Program for all meals and snacks served to children whose families might not otherwise afford nutritious food. Schools are also prohibited by federal law and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to discriminate against students.
Smith has a history of publicly “shaming” the school district. Before his election to the county board, regularly protested the school district’s annual Mock United Nations program. Now, his “idea” of giving the poor kids peanut butter and jelly not only wouldn’t save the county money, it would keep two-thirds of the school district from getting hot, nutritious meals at their public schools.
No word on whether or not the school board will vote next week on a public apology for the board of commissioners’ embarrassing actions …
Don’t know about you, but I was not raised by my parents, by my school, or by my childhood church to feel this way. To say such a thing, to any of them, would have been considered a sin. I know what I will be doing on voting day.
He should resign.
If *foot in mouth* disease was fatal, Womack and Smith would already be dead! Time to send them both packing!
What an embarrassment to our county.
I send my kids to school with a PB&J and an apple for lunch.. Does that mean I am a bad parent? As a matter of fact, that is also what I bring to lunch everyday (sometimes substituting PB&J for turkey and cheese). I’m not necessarily supporting Kirk Smith because he comes off as kind of a jerk. However, I am arguing that a PB&J (with an apple and milk) is much healthier than the school lunches that are served. According to the internet, the average school lunch is between 650 and 800 calories. If you look around the schools, you will notice a lot of obese kids….which starts them off on a lifelong path of health problems and social issues. If a less calorie (and healthier) lunch has a by-product of also saving the school district money, I vote to use the extra money to give teachers the raises that they deserve.
Growing children need between 1800-2500 calories a day. If there is no breakfast and supper is questionable… a lunch of 800 calories is great! (As adults we should stay around 1200-1500 calories a day.) – and that pizza for lunch? It’s one slice,of thin crust pizza about 5″ x 5″ along with milk and fruit. Probably fewer calories than the PB&J!
Are you saying that you don’t agree that there are a lot of overweight and/or obese kids? Statistically, lower income kids have a higher risk of obesity. Very few people in America have trouble eating enough calories which is a big difference than getting proper nutrients.
I checked the middle school breakfast and lunch schedules for Monday. Breakfast is pancakes and lunch is pizza. I’m not really sure how this comes across as healthier than the lunch mentioned above. What is the purpose of spending more money on something that is less healthy? The U.S is the 2nd fattest nation in the world and one of the least healthy. People in other countries eat FAR less than we do. They eat a lot of bananas, apples, rice, and beans – which are inexpensive foods. There is a limited amount of money and I would personally rather see it spent in the classroom and on the teachers than on unhealthy food that makes the kids fat.
Part of the issue is, that for some of these students, the meals they receive at school may be the only meals they get. PBJ for breakfast and lunch every day would be unhealthy as well because of lack of variety in the diet. You may send your child with PBJ for lunch, but do they also get it for breakfast? Are you able to feed them something else when they come home for dinner? Do they have food for the weekends? Many students depend on the lunch program for nutrients they don’t get elsewhere. Many also depend on food sent home from Communities in Schools’ Back Pack Pals program to avoid hunger over the weekends. School lunch may include pizza, but it also includes fruits and vegetables. Many children using this program may have access to little or no food at home… or maybe all their parents can afford is PBJ and there is certainly no shame in that. The shame is when we argue about serving those who need help. I find it deplorable that someone would suggest that we punish those with the least… for truly ALL children are poor (being at the mercy of their parents’ good or bad fortune) instead of looking for real solutions to problems and doing what’s best for the citizens of our community (even little non-voting ones like kids). I pray that our public officials will learn to bridle their tongues and open their minds and hearts enough to make wise and compassionate decisions–and statements.
I may be mistaken, but I believe the families of most kids who qualify for free or reduced lunches, also qualify for food stamps. Since they are already receiving food that is free to them (not free food, mind you, since somebody has to pay for it), perhaps they should pack lunches for their children and then we could really save a lot of money.
Additionally, in reference to the above statement that, “Schools are also prohibited by federal law and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to discriminate against students,” is it not discriminatory to give a child whose family does not qualify for free or reduced lunch only a cheese sandwich for lunch if he or she happens to have already charged his or her lunch twice, as is the current practice in our school system? Not only are they shaming a child because either the child, or his parents forgot lunch money, but they are feeding the child something other than what has already been prepared, which no doubt creates extra cost.
Are children who are not members of low income families less deserving of hot meals at lunch time than are other children?
One more note, I agree with the commenter above who observed, and rightfully so, that the schools are NOT providing children with healthy choices for lunch…unless chicken nuggest, french fries, pizza, good gravy pizza (for breakfast), pancakes (and other starchy, high carb foods), are to be considered healthy.
Many people who take advantage of free and reduced lunch do not qualify for food stamps. Many people who do qualify for food stamps do not take advantage of that service for various reasons. Many families who formerly would not have fallen under either of these categories now do because of the downturn in the economy and subsequent loss of their jobs or increase in the cost of living. Increasingly the concept of “security” (job security, financial security, even food security) is becoming a thing of the past for many people. As a taxpayer, if there is something I CAN get behind and say that, yes, I want my tax dollars to pay for that, it would be the school lunch program. NO child should go hungry during school hours for any reason. The program is designed so that those who can pay, do pay some, and those who can’t pay as much, pay less or nothing and those who do not want to eat school lunch do not have to do so. However, the beneficiaries are ALL of our children–whether they take advantage of the program currently or not, it is there for them. The need for this federal program has been recognized since 1946 (http://www.fns.usda.gov/nslp/national-school-lunch-program).
well said !
You inspired me , I have not written anything in a while but after the Kirk deal and some of these commenters … As an X-school custodian , I decided to write a blog on this too. http://pressingflowers.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/school-lunches-hits-a-nerve-with-me/
I thought about this blog today during lunch while I was eating my PB&J sandwich and apple. This lunch provided plenty of brain-food to get me through an eight hour workday in a highly analytical programming job. (Breakfast was a bowl of cereal…for those that would argue that I must have had a large breakfast.)
On-line data shows that the percentage of kids in the free lunch program has increased every year for the five years reported. Currently, 56% of kids in Lee County are on the free lunch program. If the trend continues, the amount of money spent on the program will continue to increase. With tight budgets and teachers not receiving a decent raise in many years, some “out of the box” thinking may be required. My point is that if over 1/2 of the county’s parents are unable (or unwilling in some cases) to meet their own children’s needs and the school system is now to become the de facto parents of these kids, then the school should at least be a good parent. I would be interested to see if it would be cheaper for the cooks to actually cook food instead of just heating up frozen crap. Could a more nutritious meal be served for the same cost (or less)?
At the last home basketball game, I was surrounded by parents that were feeding their kids soda, chips, and candy bars for dinner. So basically, the kids ate unhealthy food for breakfast and lunch (on the free lunch program)….and then a bunch of empty calories for dinner….And almost all of the parents that were feeding their kids this “dinner” were obese.
I agree that kids shouldn’t suffer because of their parents. Unfortunately, we live in a time where many parents are failing in their responsibilities and the scary thing is that good parenting is becoming more of an exception than the norm. That is why the U.S. spends more money per student on education with some of the worst results in the developed world.
Our COUNTY lunches are FED $$ not County it has nothing to do with the teachers pay or class materials .
I agree it would be better if a lot of the meals that are served be re-thought … example Hot dogs on white buns ,next day frozen chicken nuggets . I could go on .
But a meal for a child is the Real deal here . If You CHOICE to eat PB&J 5 days a week that is Your choice . But Making you eat it every day for months would be wrong .
For the record …
President Harry S. Truman began the national school lunch program in 1946 as a measure of national security. He did so after reading a study that revealed many young men had been rejected from the World War II draft due to medical conditions caused by childhood malnutrition.
I am surprised by Mr Smiths comments in that given past letter writing and actions by him, that him suggesting Peanut butter and Jelly is out of character. I can imagine him saying Bring your own bread and peanut butter,but no jelly for you.I would rather have steak all the time then see you have a nutritious lunch.Just based on my own observances over the past several years. Sometimes folks it really is not all about politics.Sometimes it is about a persons character r lack there of.
Some things have to change!!!! I don’t think starting with the lunch in schools should necessarily be first but maybe it’s a starting place. I don’t know when people are going to wake up and realize that they are not entitled everything under the sun! We are not living in 1946! Good Lord, if we where think how much better it actually would be. I could be wrong but I don’t think this country is dealing with malnutrition in 2014! Everything I hear about is Americans being over weight! So the malnutrition to me is irrelevant! I personally know 3 people that receive 500$ a month in food stamps (that is for 2 people a month) and also receive the reduced/free lunch. Now tell me what is wrong with this picture???? Where as I work my butt off to provide for my children and don’t depend on anyone to take care of them but me. I am a firm believer that if you can’t afford to fed, cloth, and house a child then you need to wait until you are able to provide those things for a child. Every child deserves those basic things and it is unfortunate that people would bring a child into the world not being able to provide for them. Now I know there is special situations and I am not referring to those. But again it goes back to responsibility and entitlement. How is it that I can go to work and work my butt off and then have to pay for others that don’t feel the need to get a job! I am going to go ahead and say this because I know someone will say “not everyone can get a job”. However that is not true at all. I went to school and paid for it by myself with school loans. The school loans you have to pay back not the free ones! If I can do it then everyone else can do it also! Not to mention there is so much help out there now with going back to school no one has an excuse not too! I may offend some people by my opinion but if the truth be told if more people thought the way I did maybe our country wouldn’t be drowning in debt and have such a high percentage of kids that needed free lunch! Just saying! Final note I will give you another example of how messed up our country is: when I had my kids I had to buy their formula all by myself. We aren’t talking about the cheap formula! I can’t tell you how many times I was at Walmart buying formula and someone in front of me was buying the most expensive formula with a government check or food stamp card! While I go to work everyday to provide for my children and also spending time away from them while I work and others depend on everyone else to support them and their kids! I understand at times people need help but that should be for a short period of time not their entire life. Wake up people and quit blaming everyone else for your problems. Do something about it!!!
Larue Wilson….someone is not truthing you….a family of two people with -0- income can only receive 357.00 in food stamps…..