Kids Eat ‘Free’ All Week Long

The rest of us must work even harder to support some of the youngest government dependents

Lawmakers in Montgomery County, Maryland, the leafy and liberal suburb of Washington, D.C., want to expand a free meals program to feed kids on the weekends.

Taxpayers already underwrite meals for students all week long through their school lunch and breakfast programs.

The proposal calls for $150,000 to feed more than 1,000 students on Saturdays and Sundays. The Montgomery County Council also recently proposed spending $400,000 to add a bus line that would serve 45 people. It has proposed two tax increases to fund these projects — a 6.4 percent hike in residential property taxes and an increase in taxes on home sales.

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“We don’t want to victimize the children,” Craig Rice, chair of the council’s Education Committee, told a D.C.-based radio station. “If the children are going hungry, then we need to solve that for them.”

The question is whether this really solves it.

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Taxpayers already underwrite meals for students all week long through school lunch and breakfast programs. Many of these programs are rife with fraud and waste, and they are used extensively by people who are not supposed to be eligible for public benefits — such as illegal immigrants.

Now, the county proposes to feed poor children on the weekends as well.

This country is a generous one — charities, humanitarian organizations, religious institutions, and governments at all levels feed millions of people every day — and may this ever be so. And the council member is correct, of course, that no children should go hungry in this country. Period.

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But if parents can’t afford to feed their own children even on the weekends — even for just two days — there is something else going on here. Are they fit to be parents? The question must be asked. Many people need a temporary hand up — but this program will attract those who look at it as a permanent source of food and public assistance for their children on the weekends forever after.

The government has a habit of sinking its teeth into taxpayer wallets, absolving individuals of their bad choices and making people depend on government.

When a parent has five days a week in meals already covered by the government and can’t even cover the weekends, it means they cannot feed their children at all. That is parental neglect, and government ought to deal with that appropriately and aggressively.

Contrast this with another news story coming out of the same county — that of kids hauled to the police station and their parents accused of neglect because they let the kids walk one mile home from the local park.

Why is the government going after these “free-range children” on the one hand, but seeking to feed thousands of kids every day of the week on the other? Because one embodies resistance to government control — and one requires it in exchange for food. Build that dependency now — and you will have a pro-dependency, pro-handout voter for life.

“I met a public school principal in central Florida who provided a package for each child to put in her or his backpack every Friday. Why? Some children would not eat a real meal until Monday. To avoid embarrassing hungry children, each child received a package,” Gerard Robinson, former commissioner of education for the state of Florida, told LifeZette.

[lz_table title=”Where Do State Tax Revenues Go?” source=”Associated Press”]K-12 Education,25%
|Medicaid/Children’s Health,16%
|Higher Education,13%
|Public Assistance,1%
|All Other,35%

That the county in Maryland already overspends and overtaxes to the point that it is quickly building a reputation as the least dynamic jurisdiction in the Washington area does not matter. That parents who can be trusted with kids should be able to feed them two days per week also does not matter. It doesn’t even matter that the county wants to spend $400,000 to bus 45 people around. What matters is the government’s habit of sinking its teeth into taxpayer wallets, absolving individuals of all their bad choices and making people depend on government for more and more.

“There are times when you have to make choices between being fiscally responsible and being socially responsible, and I think this is one of those times where being socially responsible is our highest priority,” said Transportation Committee Chairman Roger Berliner, defending the bus line boondoggle.

Really? Was the council being socially responsible or fiscally responsible when it voted itself a graduated 17.5 percent wage hike for 2017? What about when it proposed to take 6.4 percent more out of residents’ paychecks for a property tax hike?

At what point will it become socially responsible to pressure bad parents to step up to their duties? It’s already fiscally responsible.

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