The Garden City Telegram

Shameful idea: No sense in humiliating Kansas families in need

At a GOP leadership conference Saturday in Salina, several in the audience suggested that one way to curb the trend of more public school students receiving free and reduced-price lunches would be to shame the parents into not applying.

... Several in the audience suggested that the rising trend in the number of free and reduced-price lunches could be halted if the names of those in the program were published. One man suggested signs in their yards.

It's true that more students are receiving free and reduced-price lunches. In the Salina School District, about 55 percent of students were on free and reduced-price lunches in the 2009-10 school year, compared with 61 percent in 2013-14. If everyone paid full freight, that would have amounted to a savings for the federal government of $2,406,821 that year, or just 2 percent of the district's $116,180,684 budget for 2013-14.

There are people on free and reduced-price lunches who have the ability, if they cut back in other areas, to pay full price. There are always those looking to lighten their loads at the expense of others.

But the main problem is not that we've become a nation moochers as much as wages haven't kept up with expenses.

What we have here are different ways of looking at the world. Those such as the man who suggested yard signs to shame those whose children get a free lunch at school see a child with a tray of food and think, "Freeloader — probably in a long line of freeloaders. This has got to stop."

Another person sees the same child and thinks: "At least he got one good meal today. Seems like a small price to pay to help these kids, because our town, state and nation are going to need all of them to succeed. If they don't make it, none of us do."

The real shame in using yard signs for families who use free and reduced-price lunches would be on those who think it's OK to try to humiliate others.

-- The Salina Journal