Rome Students To Get Free Lunches

July 10, 2014 8:37 am

by Jon Richards · 68 comments

Students attending Rome Public Schools in Floyd County won’t have to pay for their food during the 2014-2015 school year.

Rome City Schools qualifies for a USDA-sponsored program that funds the free lunches.

“At this time of year, we are usually discussing the upcoming expected costs of lunches for the new year, but this year, thanks to this program, we don’t have to,” said Superintendent Jeff Bearden. “All students will be able to have meals for free.”

According to the school system’s website, students already receive free breakfast.

Are the free meals a valuable tool to ensure students are well fed and therefore ready to learn, or a liberal plot to promote dependency on government handouts?

Discuss.

FranInAtlanta July 10, 2014 at 9:32 am

When I attended school (finished high school in 1956), all of our lunches were subsidized and some were free (free lunch kids were required to work in the lunch room so we all knew who they were). My mom never allowed me to carry my lunch because that was more expensive (and probably less nourishing) than school food.

joe July 10, 2014 at 9:42 am

“Free”?

How about “paid for by tax payers”?

gcp July 10, 2014 at 9:54 am

Always been curious as to how these kids eat during summer, on weekends, Christmas holidays. Do they starve or are family members somehow able to provide food with food stamps during these periods but not during the school year.

Charlie July 10, 2014 at 10:02 am

Whereas I’ve always been curious as to the amount of administrative time teachers and other school folks have to use to collect money from some of the kids, process paperwork justifying free lunch on other kids, then track who has paid, who hasn’t, and then dealing with those who “forgot” their lunch money each day.

Seems like a lot of energy that would be better spent directed at educating kids rather than figuring out which ones they can get an extra buck out of.

Harry July 10, 2014 at 10:12 am

Good point.

John Konop July 10, 2014 at 10:18 am

Stop it Charlie you are making to much sense…. :)

Ellynn July 10, 2014 at 10:28 am

When a rural school district I know of did this in 2007, they were able to lose 3 emplyees at the main office,reduce secrity officers in the high school lunch lines, and steamline there ordering system. Because of the types of foods not allowed to be covered by the USDA reduced the numbers of flyers, and large scale kicthen cookers, then the Middle school updated there kitchen, they were able to elimate almost $200,000 in comerical equipment from what they had pervously.

gcp July 10, 2014 at 11:22 am

Of course it would be much too simplistic to suggest that families pay for their kids lunches or maybe kids could bring a lunch from home. Yes, way too simplistic for such a “complex” problem.

Ellynn July 10, 2014 at 12:28 pm

In order for a school system to qualify it has to have the medien income of the all the school system’s parents at about the poverity line and 40% or more of the children already on SNAP. If children have no food in the house to begin with how do they simply bring a lunch from home?

gcp July 10, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Goes back to my original statement. If no food at home what do they do on weekends, holidays?

John Konop July 10, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Not getting your point….are you suggesting that they are eating at Ruth Chris steakhouse, fridge full of food…..? That they are gaming the system to get a gourmet school lunch?

gcp July 10, 2014 at 1:36 pm

I am suggesting they got food at home and we should not have to fund them at school.

Ellynn July 10, 2014 at 1:58 pm

I’m suggesting they don’t have enough…

gcp July 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm

But if our economy is improving why do we have more kids getting free lunches? I will tell you why; its because like most other taxpayer funded programs once folks find they can get something for free, they will take advantage of it.

Charlie July 10, 2014 at 2:07 pm

And I’ll suggest that arguments like those GCP are making are why many in the pro-life community will never be taken seriously. We want to protect “every innocent life”. Then as soon as these kids are here, we want to make sure they have to pay for the mistakes and bad decisions of their parents.

I have no problem making every able bodied adult work for any benefits they receive. I have a real problem for punishing kids because of who their parents are. Any “conservative” that can’t make that distinction is why Republicans can’t have nice things.

Ellynn July 10, 2014 at 2:17 pm

I was going to suggest it was because wages where not raising as fast as the price of would since companies would rather by dividends to their stock holders then pay their employyes more, but I can go with Charlie logic here too…

Ellynn July 10, 2014 at 2:04 pm

You want to see how things are in someone elses world, I would look at working with Interfaith Hospitality Network. These children have no food from home…

gcp July 10, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Not familiar with that organization. I prefer Medical Teams International and Direct Relief; both of which are very efficient private charities.

John Konop July 10, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Do you have a crystal ball? With your crystal ball how many of the kids have enough healthy food at home? How does the scam work is it lead by each grade or do they have a mastermind for each school? BTW any 8 year old how could pull the scam you are talking about off grade or school wide would make a great business person….

Ellynn July 10, 2014 at 1:48 pm

This is not a all or nothing item. Of course they have foof, the question is do the have enough to send a lunch of with a child. In the majority of cases the answer is no.

Noway July 10, 2014 at 2:11 pm

The reason they don’t have “enough” as you put it is that they don’t put money away to buy it, knowing full well, they can, indeed, game the system and take advantage of the free givaways courtesy of gov’t. So, they spend their money on TVs, cigarettes and alcohol, the gottahavit cell phones, you name it, as opposed to taking care and being responsible for the raising and care and upbringing their own dang kids! No school, none, should ever be providing breakfast, lunch anddddddddddd dinner for students! The only thing they should provide is lunch. The kids can be fed by Mommie and Daddy at breakfast and dinner time!! The freebies are out of control. This is only one example of the dependency nation we’ve created.

John Konop July 10, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Are you suggesting an 8 year old kid is spending the money on cigarettes, alcohol….? HUH? We talking about feeding poor kids not the parents…? Are you suggesting we let the kids stay hungry because they got bad parents? Being a parent, I am fairly sure the kids are not scamming the school via food quality….trust me most kids who can pack a lunch and parents can afford it or have time…..at my kids schools pack lunches. Have you seen a school lunch? This is my second child through the system…and her friends have the same opinion as my first one….

Noway July 10, 2014 at 2:24 pm

The parents, John, the parents!

Noway July 10, 2014 at 2:29 pm

The parents, most assuredly, are scamming the giveaway programs! Why be responsible when Uncle Sugar will do a great deal of the feeding of your offspring for you?

John Konop July 10, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Let the kids starve because some of the parents are abusing the system via buying cigs and beer? That really is your solution?

Ellynn July 10, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Everyone of them is scaming the system? Each and Every one?

Noway July 10, 2014 at 3:35 pm

How do we make parents more responsible for providing for their own kids, John? I guess if we could answer that question, whoever found a real answer would be in Stockholm getting a Nobel Prize of some sort. Because taking more and more and more money out of the taxpayer’s pocket to continually subsidize bad decisions and irresponsible behavior ain’t the answer.

John Konop July 10, 2014 at 3:43 pm

…How do we make parents more responsible for providing for their own kids, John?….

I 100% agree!!!! a very good point. That is why I am for raising the minimum above the poverty line. The more adults get the subsidies from government it does create bad behavior…..I would pay 3 to 5 % more on goods verse giving away the money in subsidies. Just think of the savings alone on the earned income tax credits for people below the poverty line….Does it not create a positive behavior for workers paying into the system… rather than just getting money back? At the same time I am against punishing the kids because it will make the problem worse….

Ellynn July 10, 2014 at 10:35 am

There are summer programs that do feed children, and food banks.

jac July 10, 2014 at 10:43 am

The unfortunate reality is that many (not all, of course) of them would indeed go without meals. 60% of Georgia’s school children are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

http://www.peachpundit.com/2011/12/22/burke-county-hs-wins-state-championship-overcoming-hunger/

“In Burke County, family income is so low that 85 percent of students already qualified for free breakfast and lunch in school. But many were going without any other meals at home.

The idea that some students might be going to school or practice hungry probably wouldn’t surprise anyone who knows Burke County, Georgia – one of the poorest counties in the country – where 48 percent of kids live below the poverty line.”

There are about 2000 locations throughout Georgia that provide summer meals for children:

http://ga.nokidhungry.org/free-summer-meals

The sites are churches, school lunchrooms, YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, even school buses. In addition to these sites, many churches and non-profits operate food pantries that families can go to for help.

Chris Huttman July 10, 2014 at 11:12 am

The more they eat taxpayer subsidized/free breakfast, lunches and in some cases dinner (Burke County), the more likely they are to be the taxpayer paying for the “free” meals when they grow up.

seenbetrdayz July 10, 2014 at 3:55 pm

I’d like to assert that on the contrary, they’re more likely to grow up and have kids who need free lunches because, ‘hey, gov’t took care of me when I was little, they’ll take care of my kids as well.’

Just look how many generations of family members have been living in the slums, er, I mean, gov’t subsidized housing neighborhoods. It’s like a welfare prison. That’s a hard life to break out of, but even harder when there’s no incentive to.

Noway July 10, 2014 at 11:41 am

Do we expect the parents of these free lunch kids to have any responsibility in feeding their offspring?
Or are they, too, sidled up to the gov’t spigot?

Harry July 10, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I gotta get outta this third world state and country.

Ed July 10, 2014 at 1:20 pm

I shouldn’t go down this rabbit hole with you but seriously… name an existing country that you would prefer to live in.

Harry July 10, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Heaven, and I hope to get there.

Ellynn July 10, 2014 at 2:07 pm

You expect them to all have a parent in the picture to begin with?

Noway July 10, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Is expecting a kid to have a parent now a rarity, Ellynn? What are you talking about? 99% of kids have at least one. Or are there dormatory style orphanages I’m unaware of?

Ellynn July 10, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Just because they have a parent, does not mean they are being taken care of by that parent. Next door couple’s niece has a parent… in jail (commited a robbery while off her meds for bi-polar) . The niece is lucky she has a great aunt and uncle who can take care of her for the next 2 years. No every child has that.

John Konop July 10, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Noway is watching to many Mayberry RFD reruns……

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4nBwkDyb-4

Noway July 10, 2014 at 3:38 pm

I actually stopped watching after Barney left the show, before RFD.

gcp July 10, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Opie, Arnold, and Johnnie Paul did not have to depend on Ms. Crump for their meals at school. (Ignore this remark if you were not an Andy Griffith fan)

But seriously, at some point the cycle of goverment/taxpayer dependency has got to stop or at least it has to slow. Am I optimistic? No.

seenbetrdayz July 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm

In short? No. People who support these programs without question have very little expectations of the poor, and God help us if they ever develop any expectations of themselves, they might actually pull their way out of poverty.

Ellynn July 10, 2014 at 4:47 pm

I have every expectation of them learning to help themselves, I just don’t see why a 7 year old should go hungry inorder to teach the parents a lesson.

Noway July 10, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Hey, Ellynn, do you think those awful parents are going hungry, too? If every-damn-body in the family is starving where are the stories of massive starvation deaths throughout America? It ain’t happenin’. Maybe some societal pressure against deadbeat and worthless parents doing better by their kids might help but don’t hold your breath these days.

Ellynn July 10, 2014 at 5:29 pm

There is a difference between starving and being hungry. This is not a all or nothing argument. You want to pressure deadbeats to pay up then dun the judical system better. You want a parent to make better life choices, show them they have better (and realistic) options. I worked with shelter families, teached art classes at a Boys and Girls club, and I still work with beaten women. Not a one is straving. But the majority of them would if it ment their child had better options. When your choices in life are spending your last $20 for at least 4 days on keeping on the lights or having food on the table which one would you pick? That’s what the majority of them face every day.

Noway July 10, 2014 at 5:46 pm

I’ll show them the guy driving the Mercedes who by his own smarts and initiative studied hard, applied himself, made something of his life by hard work and initiative. That right there is your realistic option. Improving your own life. Not by throwing at him another government handout program so he can have his own Obama phone or Section 8 housing. I’d discourage teens from getting pregnant, thereby starting their lives out by becoming a burden on their parents and then society. That would be the better life choices you rightly noted. The best thing is to encourage individual achievement and accomplishment so you don’t have to get down to your last 20 bucks in the first place. Why don’t we see anymore, like when you and I were kids, people extolling us to emulate the rich guy, doing what he did to get ahead? Seriously, why isn’t Bill Gates or your own community General Practitioner held up as the guy to mirror? Successful people should be held up as examples of how to get out of the irresponsible hole that so many people find themselves in.

John Konop July 10, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Much of what you say I do not disagree…..but as with business I deal with reality of the situation. My personal feelings are set aside over what is best for the business. The hardest thing I had to learn is 80 percent of what I aspect is good….I can live with 60 percent….if they put on my effort and commitment they would be me…..my 10 cents…

Noway July 10, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Meaning, John, if they put forth the kind of effort you have, they could possibly enjoy your same level of success! Bravo, John! Now that is a positive message. “Go ask that Konop guy, how does he and how did he do it?” Learn from him! Learn from those you admire and emulate them!

John Konop July 10, 2014 at 8:19 pm

No that it is all about moving the ball forward….look I do agree action speak louder than words….not sure the crazy hours and effort I put in is for all people….price to pay for everything….

Ellynn July 10, 2014 at 7:47 pm

This Saturady, I am going to sit down next to a 24 year old welfare, SNAP (and now homeless) mother of 3 who left her abusive mate and explain to her how to maintain a runing balance on a bank account and more importantly why it’s a benifit to her to do so. She never had a bank account in just her name. Her 8 year old is going to be with us and I’m going to have him do the basic math while mom and I work through the basic mechnics of how this all works.

Why; because I believe successful people should be more then just an example. That guy driving the Mercedes might have improved his own life (and I applaud him for doing so), but if he’s only going to stand there and say this is what hard work and initive can one day get you, that is no better then me standing next to the plate of perch and telling some one to go out and find a fish.

Showing her (and her son) I am an independant women means more then saying look at me I’m rich and have a cool car. Any drug dealer or pimp down the block can do that. I’m not a mirror, but I can be a door and encourage and show someone the skill to take the small little steps I use lead my life while hopefully allowing a battered and scared women to learn to take pride in arranging a few numbers on a ledger. Pride and selfrespect can accomplish much more then shaming and finger pointing after the fact ever could. We need to make people know it matters what they do the small boring every day tasks, that this is twhat we mean as the hard work. I can give her 2 hours of my time and let her know she is more then a burden to society and this is what I and other strong women do. This is what the norm is. Show her what the expectation is.

I have no idea if it will work. But I will show her the skill, and that is more then she has right now.

Bridget Cantrell July 10, 2014 at 9:04 pm

I like you. If you’re on FB, please find me so that we can connect.

The Last Democrat in Georgia July 10, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Good stuff, Ellynn….Keep up the good work.

seenbetrdayz July 11, 2014 at 12:15 am

There’s a key difference between what you’re doing there, versus taking someone else’s dollars and giving away ‘free’ lunches.

Charlie July 11, 2014 at 9:10 am

What we’re “giving away” is a “free” education. To everyone.

We decided the battle that a lunch was a part of the deal a half century ago. It’s a rounding error on the cost of the overall product, and is a small insurance policy to help ensure the overall outcome is what we taxpayers are investing in so that we can have an educated and productive society.

The reason we have “free” education isn’t so the kids with parents who made all the right decisions can excel. It’s so that every child has an equal opportunity to be a productive member of society. We as a nation have decided that is a fundamental benefit to all.

Acting like kids that need a free lunch are moochers (or just deciding that lunch overall is part of the package) misses the fundamental point of why we have public education. And if you want the poor kids to sit there hungry and not focused so you can prove a point about self-reliance to their parents, you’re never going to get it.

John Konop July 11, 2014 at 9:56 am

Seen,

I agree with Charlie…..the father of free market economics Adam Smith…..which much of our Bill of Rights are based on….was a major advocate of free education to maintain and or grow your economy. I am sure Charlie as an economics major will tell you this is basic concept taught, not even debated by people who study economics….Obviously people debate how this is done ie charter, voucher, public, private, home, tracking….no rational person I know of on any side is against education for all.

seenbetrdayz July 11, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Well, let me put it this way:

I’m one of the ones who understands that kids are expensive, and didn’t rush out to have any. I focused my efforts on saving up my money to get my life right before bringing a child into the world.

Why should I, someone who didn’t mess up (or at least carefully planned for contingencies), be taxed to pay for someone else’s kids? It does get old having people tell you that we have some social duty to provide through government, when clearly the social duty to provide for oneself and minimize the burden on others is obviously NOT worthy of being rewarded, I should know.

In short, government subsidizes failures and punishes success.

seenbetrdayz July 11, 2014 at 3:39 pm

At the very least, if they’re gonna go this route, take it out of the money I’m already paying into the endless money pit that is public education. For every grant like this that gets approved, they should recoup some cost by slicing a position out of the Federal Dept. of Education until it’s gone.

Charlie July 11, 2014 at 3:46 pm

I don’t have kids. The bulk of my property taxes go to pay for other people’s kids to be educated. Why should I have to pay for this? Because as a society, we’ve decided that we’re going to give every kid a K-12 education. That’s what we do. Period.

Taxes aren’t about just paying for the things we get a direct benefit from. If that were the case, we wouldn’t need them at all. We’d all just be consumers.

It’s a damn shame when you have to accept the fact that the world doesn’t work the way that you would have it work, all in a way that helps you maximize your own personal utility to the exclusion of everyone else. That’s what separates those of us who understand “limited government” from those such as yourself that confuse that as “no government unless I personally get a benefit from it, and even then I’m going to gripe about it costing too much/being inefficient/would be better if we could pretend we don’t need one”.

seenbetrdayz July 11, 2014 at 4:07 pm

I think YOU’ve decided that as a society . . . so leave me out of it.

Let me ask you this:

How many of these kids’ parents went to public school under the notion that every kid should have a chance to succeed, and *IF* there is some imagined benefit to public education (as you seem to think), why did they end up with kids who still need assistance? How many kids today would qualify for public assistance in Rome, Georgia? (75% I think it is), versus 10, 20 years ago? Before you decide to keep lighting money on fire via the public education system, why don’t you bother to ask yourself if it is working? I went to public school. I don’t say I benefited from it; I say I survived it. It is a system that promotes uniformity and obedience and quells individuality and freedom. As Mark Twain reportedly once said, “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

I think you’re sorely over-rating public education.

seenbetrdayz July 11, 2014 at 4:13 pm

So, I say again, if you want these programs, at least cut the cost out of the bloated edu-bureaucracies so we don’t have to sit back and listen to an endless line (and they are endless when it comes to education) of justifications for why they need more money.

Ellynn July 11, 2014 at 8:43 pm

It’s not about wanting to feed children it’s about NEEDING to feed children. And children need help beacuse their parents don’t make enough to feed them. because some one decided it was more important to pay share holders then their employees. When the average middle class wage has not signifacantly increase in the last 12 years but the cost of living has, you have more people who have incomes that allow for public assistance. The majority of the jobs create in 200o to 2008 where not high end jobs. They were construction and service industry. We all know how well that worked out in the end for construction and when the economy fell so did the service industry. You want less children eating free lunches raise the minium wage and start building (and paying for) infurstructure. Until then stop picking on the 7 year olds. and vent for frustration to the elected offices who won’t pass a transit bill.

Jon Richards July 11, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Hey Seen,

Your attitude of “I have mine so screw everyone else” isn’t going to make it. It reminds me of Lord of the Flies.

Like Charlie, I don’t have kids. As a homeowner, I pay far more in school taxes than I do in property taxes to Gwinnett County. And, I don’t mind doing it. Gwinnett provides an education that has been lauded as one of the best for an urban school district that’s the largest in Georgia.

But beyond that, I believe in the conservative idea that every child should have a chance to excel. Will everyone succeed? No, that’s equal outcomes, which I strongly oppose.

Where is the balancing point between giving every child an equal chance to succeed and ensuring everyone gets a trophy for trying? That’s a discussion that’s worth having. But I bet it’s not as cold-hearted as what you seem to advocate.

Ellynn July 11, 2014 at 10:23 am

Not really. Whatever I do will not prevent her children from going to school and needing that extra help to learn. to give a child security by making sure they are feed at least once a day.

I had a a free lunch grewing up in school. Not because I fell under the USDA program – my mother was a public school teacher was allowed to have herself and at least 2 family members eating what was called Hot lunch. Cold lunch was the brown bag bring from home lunches. The next weeks menu was printed every Friday afternoon in the newpaper. There is a level of security for a child knowing whatthey would be eating next week that most people take for granted. How many of us spend the hour before lunch thinking about where and/or what we are going to eat? Imagine that interupting a childs learning patterns.

Children need security. I’m teaching a parent a skill that can lead to that security. In the mean time, a child should not be made the excape valve for some one elses vendetta against their parents or even the system.

John Konop July 11, 2014 at 12:21 pm

…..Children need security. I’m teaching a parent a skill that can lead to that security. In the mean time, a child should not be made the escape valve for some one else’s vendetta against their parents or even the system……

THAT IS THE POINT!

Noway July 10, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Then I say Godspeed to you, Ellynn! You may be the actual example and spark that sets this woman on a path of self-help and eventual pride and success!

Ellynn July 10, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Thank you.

In the mean time she still needs to feed her children, she will still be on SNAP and her son will get free breakfast and lunch until she either can do it on her own, or pass along the skills to make sure her children can be indepenant and break the cycle. Cutting her off at the knees will only undo whatever words I say.

saltycracker July 10, 2014 at 9:13 pm

It is time to cover “free” meals in schools for all students.
Considering the accessibility of school cafeterias it might be time to put all cafeterias under some consolidated state agency and expand food services to those in need, replacing the fraud ridden SNAP program and to some extent farm subsidies.

Test it: If you qualify for SNAP, have a student, your family will not get a SNAP card but qualify for 3 balanced meals per day at their school. 7 days a week, 365 days.

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