“it would be a good idea…if kids work for their lunches”

Sparked by state delegate Ray Canterbury’s (R-West Virginia) suggestion, “it would be a good idea…if kids work for their lunches”, his response to Senate Bill 663, The kNOw gathered youth reactions to what this policy would mean for students and especially those who depend on free school meals.
Senate Bill 663 or the Feed to Achieve Act proposes support for the free breakfast and lunch programs be provided through private donations and public funds.

How do you think this policy could affect students? Who do you feel is most affected by this kind of policy?

Parker Anderton, 17: I don’t think it’s necessary for kids to work for their lunch. Kids already come to school with lunch [or money to] spend it on lunch. To them they didn’t have to do anything for their lunch except carry money. To them [youth not on the free lunch program] it’s free money so either way, work ethic is an issue. At my elementary school we didn’t even need money. We had cards with pre-loaded money so to us elementary school kids we just had to swipe a card for food. [Whether youth’s parents paid for their lunch or youth were on the free lunch program, there was no difference in the process of receiving your meal]  

Oxania Kelley, 16: I think that it is wrong not just to kids but everyone. [Asking youth to work for free lunch] is like a punishment and torture to practically have someone starve just because they need to clean up and do janitorial services. They come to school to learn not to perform janitorial work. The school itself does a poor job in helping students learn and improve their test scores. How do they expect those students to do well when they don’t even have the nutrition to help them concentrate and do their best?

Adriana, 17: I think it is a good and bad idea at the same time. Kids should know the value of the food that they are given. The lunches that the government provides them for free, are the same lunches that they only sniff and pick at, then throw away. It’s important for them to know that the food isn’t as dispensable as they see it. On the other hand, kids go to school to learn information and skills that will help them succeed in life not learn lessons. Lessons about values and work ethic are the parents’ responsibility.

Christina Tran, 17: I think it is absolutely outrageous to make a child work for their meal on public property. It’s stupid. Taxes go to schools funding free or reduced lunches, for a reason. It’s supposed to be FREE. Whoever thinks otherwise needs to give the best reason because it’s unfair and damaging. Parents send their children to school to get an education. To have their children take care of for the 8 hours they’re in school. Not everyone can afford to send their students to school with a decent lunch. FREE or reduced lunch should continue to stay that way and if anyone believes child labor for a meal, is alright they need to be reevaluated. Seriously. No child should have to come to school hungry to only stay hungry. They are still developing and without food in their bodies, health issues can arise. No child deserves to be put to labor because they didn’t ask for that. They haven’t done anything wrong because they haven’t been given any chances.

Maijoua Vang, 16: I see something like this occurring in a less developed country, like Africa. I thought kids that are in a low income family could get free lunch at school. I feel like it is not fair for kids to be working at school to get free lunch. Why can’t lunch just be free to the students? The kids could volunteer to pick up trash and get some kind of treat. I think kids working for food at school is sad and I wouldn’t want to see it happen. Sometimes it may not be fair if the kids had to miss lunch or breakfast. I think the act is a bad idea. Our parents are paying taxes and the tax money can go towards food.

Cloe, 18: The whole issue is ridiculous. Who in their right mind would make a child work for their food. Really? What kind of public education system has this turned into? Those children are already working hard enough with their little brains to actually stay in school and learn. Making them work for their lunches will just take away any motivation that they’ll have for going to school. Pretty soon they’ll get tired and annoyed with having to labor just to eat while at school .This should be seen as child abuse. It’s crazy how these old delegates in office expect the youth to “work” for their food, yet they themselves never had to do that during their childhood. I mean its not like if the schools are giving kids the top-notch expensive healthy foods. They [schools] get it subsidized.

Kevin Shelton, 20: These are children who give up 8-9 hours a day to learn and work hard academically.You never know their personal living condition. A daily meal should be provided to the dedication received on a daily basis. They are kids.

You are providing an image toward not being accepted for the work they do daily.

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The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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