This summer, many government schools (and parks and rec centers) in Utah are offering free meals to anyone under age 18 who shows up, regardless of their need, using federal tax dollars. Check out this video report to learn about the program:
More and more, government is using schools as welfare centers rather than education centers. Schools offer children and their families meals, medical care, day care, transportation, counseling and more.
Here’s the script of the video:
VOICE-OVER: The Utah State Office of Education supports a Summer Lunch Program that offers free meals to anyone under the age of 18. The catch? Well, there isn’t one. Charlene Allert, the assistant director for the child nutrition programs in the state of Utah, explains this program.
CHARLENE ALLERT: “The summer program is a program for kids; it’s to offer them healthy meals during times when school is not in session. And it’s only offered in neighborhoods where at least 50 percent of the kids qualify for free or reduced-price meals. In that community all kids can attend that program.”
VOICE-OVER: The summer food service program is federally funded and administered at the state level. This year there are 30 sponsors throughout the state and 224 sites that provide breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner, depending on the type of service offered at each site. Even though the program is only offered in low-income areas, children under 18 from anywhere can get a free lunch, no questions asked. In fact, school districts like Davis County advertise and invite anyone under 18 to attend, regardless of income.
ALLERT: “Parents decide whether or not they want to send their children to the sites; that’s an individual decision that they make. The school is area qualified; in other words, all children that come qualify for any meals at that site and we don’t make a differentiation between ‘that kid doesn’t look like they should qualify for this program’ and ‘that one does.’ All children that come to the sites qualify.”
VOICE-OVER: But do parents even know this program is intended for individuals who cannot afford food for their children? The majority of partakers at Washington Elementary in Bountiful said they heard about this FREE lunch from their friends and neighbors. When asked why she came to the lunch, one mom said:
MOM AT SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM: “Well, for one, it’s free; that’s great the kids can eat free, and I have four kids and so it’s nice just to come and not to have to worry about making them lunch every day and the cleanup afterwards.”
VOICE-OVER: This summer lunch program impacts the self-reliance of families and individuals. Bill Duncan, director of Sutherland Institute’s Center for Family and Society, explains how residents of Utah can become more and more dependent upon government.
BILL DUNCAN: “The creation of dependence in people who take these kinds of programs – it’s much easier to say, ‘Well, I’d like a free lunch,’ or something like that, rather than figure out ways of how you’re going to support your family. Even for people who might potentially be on the borderline there’s a risk that those people are going to say, ‘Well, we need the government to give us what we have,’ rather than figuring out ways to build their own self-reliance.”
BILL DUNCAN: “These kinds of programs are kind of inherently flawed because the challenge is you’re not going to have the parents come to the door and say, ‘Can you show us an income statement?’ – that would be pretty intrusive. But on the other hand, the government is sort of holding out this carrot: ‘Please come in and depend on us for your meals.’ That kind of judgment call is sometimes hard for people to make.”
VOICE-OVER: This “free lunch” attitude was even promoted as a way to “save money” in a post written by a local resident on a coupon clipping website.
BILL DUNCAN: “One problem we have already seen that you’ll see online is people talking about ‘hey, look this is a great way to save money, be a little more frugal.’ Frugality is great, but not necessarily with the expense of your neighbors who are taxpayers.”
VOICE-OVER: As the saying goes, there really is no “free lunch.” The growing acceptance of government handouts in our Utah communities is alarming. Should Utah participate in a taxpayer-funded lunch program, even if it is making Utahns more dependent on government? Do Utahns realize their “free lunch” is at their neighbors’ expense? Our freedom is reduced when government, by force of tax, takes from some of its citizens and gives to others. For Sutherland Institute, I’m Alexis Young, reminding you that policy, good or bad, changes lives!