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Monday November 20th 2017

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House Republicans Stall School Nutrition Bill- Obviously

All I had to do was read the title above (minus my own addition) and I already knew what was coming. I then proceeded to read the entire article here on Education Week in what has become a numb disbelief.

Republicans blocked a bill that would allow more poor children access to food, while at the same time requiring the food to be good for them. There shouldn’t even be any discourse in any country that can argue the benefits of this, but sadly, the conversations our country continues to have seem to be led by those who have not experienced first hand the problems real people have.

That is why I write this blog- because I am at the ground level. Let me tell you how things are down here in the real world.

Over half of the students in my high school qualify for free or reduced lunch. Many of these kids and their families live below the poverty line. Look up what that means in your state and then imagine what it would be like living on what these people make per month. Half of my school qualifies because it has been recognized that their parents do not make enough money to adequately feed their children.

Yes, this is very common here in these United States. If you are surprised about this, you should be thankful.

Now you can go ahead and blame the parents. Blame them for not working hard enough. Blame them for not getting an education. Go ahead. Do it. When you’re done, lets focus on who this bill would have helped. As always, the ones who are forgotten are the kids.

Despite the shortcomings of their parents, this bill would have extended more, healthy food to poor 14-year-old children. Period.

Of course, as in almost every news article today, the only people who are quoted are those who know the least about any of these things. In this article, it was Sarah Palin voicing the concerns of Republicans who said it isn’t about not keeping kids healthy, it’s about the role of government and our “Nanny State.” Fair enough, lets talk about that from the perspective of us down here on the ground level.

For the last few decades, we haven’t had this much-feared “Nanny State.” How has that been working for our children? We now have higher rates of diabetes and obesity than any civilization in the history of this planet. So we have two options, we can keep things how they are, which no one on earth could say is working- or we could look for other solutions.

Should we leave it up to private corporations or the states themselves? Should we let them feed our children? Well, that’s what we’ve done, and in order for these ventures to survive, they have packaged the cheapest, unhealthiest food into vacuum packets and sent it to our school children now for years. These companies and state agencies have not been historically driven by nutrition. If we leave government and regulation out of it, they are allowed to pursue the one thing every company strives for- their bottom line. Without anyone to tell these people what to do, they will continue what they’ve been doing for decades- create the fattest, unhealthiest country on earth.

So that’s not really working.

Let me tell you about the life of a poor kid. They take a public bus to school in the morning. They don’t have breakfast at home because their parents have committed the atrocity of being poor. Forget about their parents for a moment, I am not talking about them and why they are poor, I am talking about a child. They get to school where we provide them with breakfast and lunch for free. Look, they’re going to eat whatever we give them. Hungry 14-year-olds can’t afford to be choosy. So we can leave things how they have been, and continue feeding them the worst food still legal to serve for human consumption, or we can put laws into place that requires that food to be somewhat good for them.

Some attack the poor saying they should eat healthy on their own. Well, with a little money in their pocket, the kids walk down any street in this country and their choices are once again limited. We all know about our Fast Food Nation. But again, people like Sarah Palin don’t understand these kids can’t choose to buy organic on their own. There aren’t any farmer’s markets on these concrete streets. Their three dollars will get them a taco or some fries. Sure, they might be able to walk into a grocery store and buy an apple instead, but I’m betting when she was 14, Sarah Palin wasn’t voluntarily buying apples for all of her dinner needs.

Here in California, some good things have already begun to happen. The vending machines at my school only sell water and juice, not soda. And the food is now made here on campus with much healthier ingredients. It still isn’t ideal, but it’s a start. Not every state has followed this common sense example of decency, and probably won’t for some time.

Whether this bill gets passed soon or not, this is just another example of the insanity of our national discourse. How is it that men and women who have never been poor in their lives get to decide little kids don’t deserve free, healthy food? Come to my school, sit in on one of my classes. Follow one of these kids to school in the morning and then tell me 20 million kids just like them don’t deserve a free meal that isn’t shortening their life span. Corporate America and the states themselves aren’t going to do it on their own, that is a proven fact- so it is about time someone made them.

This isn’t about expanding government. This isn’t some imagined communist takeover by a shadow government of hippie lunch ladies. This is about our insanely poor children who literally have no other options.

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