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Paul Ryan: ‘Poor Kids Do Not Want Free School Lunch, They Want Their Parents to Care’

At Thursday’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) meeting, former GOP Vice-Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan (R-WI) took to the podium to tell poor parents that they do not need financial support to feed their kids. Apparently, what they really need to do is care.

In a speech where he ironically berated the left for being “out of touch,” Ryan said that problem with the left strategies of food stamps and federally supported free lunch programs was that it offered Americans, “a full stomach and an empty soul.”

He then told the (at least) third-hand story that he learned from a fellow Republican who serves in the cabinet of “buddy Governor Scott Walker” to illustrate why a young child would rather not have a nutritious free lunch at school.

According to Ryan, this young child from a very poor family did not want to be provided with food at school. “He didn’t want a free lunch,” Ryan insisted to the audience. “He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown paper bag, just like the other kids.”

He added that the reason the child did not want to have a free lunch was because it proved he did not have parents that cared. “He wanted one [a brown paper bag lunch]”, Ryan continued, “because he knew a kid with a brown paper bag had someone who cared for him. This is what the left does not understand.”

Yet, while Ryan’s little-boy-lost yarn may be compelling Republican rhetoric, it does not jive with the reality of the school lunch program today. Nearly 30 million children participate in a school lunch program on a daily basis from all income levels and, as recent news demonstrates, parents of school lunch kids seem to care a lot.

Parents were outraged when a school in Utah threw away their kids lunch due to overdue bills and in Texas, a dad and school volunteer even paid for other kids’  lunches because he cared so much that all kids, especially those of hard-working parents on reduced lunch, had a chance to eat and succeed in school.

“These are elementary school kids,”  Texas Dad Kenny Thompson said when he paid off the bills of school lunch kids so they could enjoy a hot school meal and get back to thinking about school. “They don’t need to be worried about finances. They need to be worried about what grade they got in spelling.” 



Photo Credit: Screenshot/CPAC speech







About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.