The Republican party is well known for looking for ways to save money and cut budgets, and they seldom have much concern for who they are hurting in the process. Often, sadly, that seems to include children, especially in their bizarre quest against federally subsidized school lunches. We’ve already seen Republicans pan the program, or demand that kids do some form of work in order to earn their food. Now, it appears, they are becoming a little more gentle in their “starve the poor children” stance.
Yes, they are going to finally feed the school children. Well, as long as they don’t live in the city.
According to Talking Points Memo, a new agricultural bill has been signed, and with slightly less opposition than usual. One place where the two parties mostly stopped fighting was in a pilot program that would continue federally funded lunches for low income students over the summer months, knowing that for many, that lunch may be the major source of nourishment for the day.
But not everyone is going to receive this extension. Instead of continuing the original program, the GOP agreed to a new pilot program that was only $27 million, not the full $30 million being requested, and which only applied to rural schools, leaving urban schools out.
Quoting a Politico article, TMP explains: “Democrats were surprised to see urban children were excluded. And the GOP had some trouble explaining the history itself. But a spokeswoman confirmed that the intent of the bill is a pilot project in ‘rural areas’ only.” TPM’s Josh Marshall then asks, “I’m not sure why this isn’t a bigger deal.”
The House Appropriations Committee has responded by saying this isn’t an issue of rural over urban, but a supplementation, enhancing the funding that already exists for the program and meeting needs specific to a rural environment, such as inability to get to food programs because of transportation needs that allegedly urban areas don’t have.
According to Ned Resnikoff, writing at MSNBC, there is a racial issue that might be at play as well. Even if you reject the idea of urban being a codeword for minority, and rural for Caucasian, he argues, looking specifically at the area that the new pilot program addresses, you see that it is a focus specifically on Appalachian region, which Resnikoff notes is “24% whiter than the rest of the country and has a median income which is about 18% lower.”
It also, unsurprisingly, is quite a bit more conservative than the rest of the states it is a part of. In other words, the GOP-backed pilot program is likely to mostly benefit those who are putting more Republicans into Congress.
When it comes to the reasoning behind a push for extra funding for rural areas, transportation seems like a stretch. After all, urban area children have just as much of an issue accessing food, especially when you consider the food deserts that plague large cities, making it impossible for many to access affordable nutritious groceries. Rural children have the added ability to likely obtain food grown close to home, have gardens or trees that they have access to, and other small but meaningful additional resources that urban children won’t be able to obtain.
What it really comes down to is the fact that children shouldn’t be pitted against each other for funding, regardless of where they live, and food insecurity should never be used for political gain. Once more, sadly, it appears that is a lesson that has yet to make an impact on the Republican party.
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