Pretty much everybody agrees that schools, public or private, should provide “free” (no cost) lunches to students from low-income families. But should taxpayers really be on the hook to buy lunch for children with rich parents?
That’s the approach California is now taking.
“With food prices, inflation, and food insecurity on the rise in California, leaders in education are taking action,” local news outlet ABC 7 reported . “Beginning this school year, California will be the first state to implement the Universal Meals program, providing free meals to all schoolchildren. The program will make sure all kids have access to free meals at school.”
I've always been fine with "free" (aka taxpayer funded) lunches for low-income families/students.
But screw this socialism-for-the-rich.
You're forcing working-class taxpayers to pay for rich kids lunches instead of, hmm, I dunno, THEIR PARENTS paying?https://t.co/UkkBbDM3y8
— Brad Polumbo 🇺🇸⚽️🏳️🌈 (@brad_polumbo) August 12, 2022
This is an approach many states temporarily took during the pandemic, but thanks to legislation signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Golden State will permanently provide “free” lunches to all students. This is, in part, funded by federal taxes, too, ABC 7 reported, meaning that taxpayers in other states are also on the hook for this expansion.
Per California.com , in Hillsborough, California, the median household income is $430,681 and the median home price is over $5 million. In Atherton, California, the median household income is $525,324 and the median home price is over $7 million. Under California’s new policies, public schools in these areas will provide “free,” aka taxpayer-funded, lunches to students even of incredibly wealthy parents.
This isn’t charitable or generous. It’s an injustice.
Working-class people are already struggling under the weight of crushing inflation, and now they’re on the hook for even more taxes so that Susan doesn’t have to write a check to Billy’s school for his gluten-free, whole-wheat avocado pizza.
Some will say that “all the rich people send their children to private school.” This isn’t true. There are plenty of affluent families who send their children to public schools. Regardless, it’s not an argument against means-testing. If a given public school really were mostly low-income students, the students would mostly all qualify for “free” lunch.
Others will insist that it’s really not that much money, so why not offer universal “free” lunch?
To this, I’d point out that we’re talking about more than $650 million in California taxpayer money being invested to make these “free” lunches available for non-needy students. That’s not chump change. And more importantly, every dollar spent on this is a dollar that could be spent on something more worthwhile — or, better yet, left in families’ pocketbooks to begin with.
California liberals don’t actually believe that relieving affluent families of the crushing burden of already heavily subsidized school lunch costs, which vary a lot but are usually about $3-6/meal, is a top priority. In reality, their true goal is expanding the government’s control over child-rearing and enshrining dependency on failing public schools, making it more difficult to enact competitive, market-based school choice policies despite their ample benefits.
And, of course, there’s simply no real downside from the California politicians’ point of view since it’s not their money they’re wasting. But taxpayers, in California and across the country, shouldn’t stand for this school lunch socialism for the rich.
This article originally appeared in the Washington Examiner.
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