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Free Lunch Program Vital for Students

Vicky Aguilar

Vicky Aguilar

Kailey Withers, Photograph Editor

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 The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is an extremely necessary program which provides free or low-cost meals to students whose families fall under a certain income bracket. This program is currently in operation in public and nonprofit private schools across the nation, including our own UC High. In 2012, it provided meals to over 30 million children in the United States. Now in 2017, there are rumors swirling that the new administration could remove money from the NSLP’s budget. Removal of this program is completely unethical, and it would force many kids nationwide to go hungry every single day (fns.usda.gov).

 In recent affairs, Education Secretary Betsy Devos has questioned whether or not schools should provide free lunch programs. After joking about the issue at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference, she prided herself as being the “…first person to tell Bernie Sanders, to his face, that there’s no such thing as a free lunch” (CNN.com). However, for many children nationwide, the NSLP is their only guarantee for a meal that day (fns.usda.gov). The severity of the joke is not something to be easily brushed off. As the representative for the Department of Education, Devos’s stab at the children she is supposed to be supporting is absolutely disgusting. Instead of insulting and embarrassing these innocent children, maybe she should stand up for them and actually fight for the things they need.

 Unfortunately, Republicans around the country tend to agree with DeVos on issues like these. They believe that these programs use too much  taxpayer money, money that could otherwise be going towards programs that would directly benefit them. Many Republicans fight for schools to be open for everyone, no matter the circumstances, but isn’t being provided a meal essential for students to reach their full potentials? Or do Republicans only want to make school available to a limited number of students under a list of circumstances? Instead of ignoring people’s circumstances, perhaps they should open their eyes to the economic disparity that many face, daily. This is where our nation’s problem lies. Too many people of this country prioritize their own benefits over the lives of the people surrounding them.

 The scary thing about all this is, this is not the first time Republicans have fought the free lunch program. Luckily, Republicans were unable to pass the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 (H.R. 5003), a bill that would have altered the eligibility for students to receive free or reduced lunches (congress.gov). If this bill had gone through, there are kids who would have been left with nothing to eat, which would have deteriorated their potential to succeed. “Taking away free lunch would be terrible because a lot of kids rely on the program. If you don’t eat anything then it can be hard to focus on your schoolwork,” said Senior Aliyah Prelow.

 The removal of the free and reduced lunch program would prevent kids from reaching their full potential. The end effect would be detrimental to not only the students affected, but to the country as a whole.

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Free Lunch Program Vital for Students