There Is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch – Unless You Are a Congressman

Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston ended the year advocating that children who can’t afford to eat and receive free or reduced lunches from their schools should do something to “earn” that food, like sweep the cafeteria floors. “[T]hink what we would gain as a society in getting people — getting the myth out of their head that there is such a thing as a free lunch,” argued the Republican Congressman.

It turns out that there is such a thing as a free lunch, though. At least, there is when you are a politician with a massive expense account.

According to Talking Points Memo, Rep. Kingston has enjoyed many free meals over the last few years, including the nearly $4,200 expensed to his congressional office for meals, the $4,200 that outside groups spent on meals for him, and the $145,000 of his total campaign expenses that were spent on meals.

The Congressman would likely state that there is no hypocrisy involved, as (I’m sure) every expensed meal was a part of a legitimate working event, meaning that he “earned” his reimbursed, and hence free, meal. In essence, though, that is exactly what school children do as well. Just as a business meal can only be reimbursed when the expense in question occurred because the person expensing the meal accrued the expense while working, a student requires a lunch because he or she is at a school, which is that student’s job. A student shouldn’t be forced to do extra work to “earn” that meal because he or she has already earned it — by doing the job of being a student.

Rep. Kingston, however, has been a longstanding opponent of children eating in general — at least, if those children are poor. In 2011, as head of the House Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee, he led the charge to cut $650 million from the budget for SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) food programs, which would have forced those programs to turn away as many as 350,000 participants for the year. The callousness of the assault on the poor caused National Women’s Law Center to accuse him of starving children as a means to combat childhood obesity. “[Rep. Kingston and Rep. Paul Ryan] have a simpler diet plan for young children: stop eating,” wrote the group in 2011.

Maybe Rep. Kingston has a reason for blocking poor children from eating, though. After all, he’s actively involved in blocking any bills that can ensure the safety of the food on our plates, too. Rep. Kingston has been just as adamant about trying to cut funding for the FDA and blocking any implementation of regulation that would ensure the safety of our food supply. In 2011 he called funds for increasing food inspection a tactic to get Democrat votes for reelection and argued that food was safe enough as it was. “While it’s a great re-election tool to terrify people into thinking that the food they’re eating is unsafe and unsanitary, and if not for the wonderful nanny-state politicians we’d be getting sick after every meal, the system we have is doing a darn good job,” said Rep. Kingston.

So, shorter Jack Kingston: There is no free lunch, at least, not if you are poor, and especially not if you are a child. However, if he had his way, that would be for your own good because every bite you took would be a dangerous wager with your own health.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

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Oleg Kobetz
Oleg Kobetz1 years ago

Thank you

june t.
june t.1 years ago

ironically - the ones that tell us "there is no free lunch" are always the ones that get freebies, including free lunches

Deborah W.
Deborah W.1 years ago

Fair across the board for ALL, what a concept. What's good for one is good for the other, also a dream concept given the current climate. How sad this once great nation has become. Congress and the White House now so encapulated in their bubble and internal wars, they have no time for any other living creatures, all politics and nothing about policies.

More government control less freedom, but only if we allow it. They still work for us, we hired them ... and can fire them. Vote with purpose after researching your candidates.

Siets Dijk
Siets Dijk1 years ago

What a jerk

Angela Roquemore
Angela Roquemore1 years ago

He is the southbound end of a northbound horse's ass.

Jane C.
Jane C.1 years ago

Oink, oink, Rep. Kingston.

Fred h
Fred Hoekstra1 years ago

Thank you Robin, for Sharing this!

Anna L.
Anna L.1 years ago

I have already commented but could go on indefinitely. We all know about the expense account...spend $4,200 on feeding your contributors (personal) is repulsive..and so are the suggestions he made for the children, and assuming poor people aren't working. Going back through" causes" dealing with similar issues is, Sept. 6,2013, 5 Reasons to give ALL kids free school lunches.., this is regardless of parents income. That article and this go hand- in- hand! Rep. Kingston either has no children or really has no use for them. His callousness is unthinkable and I agree with Betty K. and so many others, VOTE him out. All of Congress needs to take heed. The children they are" throwing under the bus" today WILL grow up into VOTERS. To all of you patient members,Thank you. This article happens to be close to me as my daughter works full-time at above minimum wage yet is still below the poverty level and gets reduced or free lunches for her children.

Betty Kelly
Betty Kelly1 years ago

Hard working, honest, poor Americans greatly outnumber the greedy, nickle grubbing, radical repubs so STAND UP FOR AMERICA; VOTE THEM OUT OF POWER.

Rachida El Kaddioui

The problem of being a rich congressman is ones he's rich, he wants only more, like an adiction, he won't share, too greedy, how more he has, the worser he'll become, i hope karma is right behind hem!!
Even a congressman can lose everything and become poor...!