Saturday, August 13, 2016

An open letter to Paul Ryan and conservatives who think that feeding children for free at school is wrong.

Paul Ryan, a young leader, who holds family values dear spoke at the CPAC convention this year and attacked the government's feeding programs at schools.  My district last year offered free breakfast to ALL students (one way to keep the stigma of being a free and reduced lunch program kid).  Here is what he said.

He repeated a story Eloise Anderson, who serves in the cabinet for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, had related.  She once met a young boy from a poor family. And every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. But he told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch — one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids’. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him.
He went on to say that “the Left” doesn’t understand this desire for dignity, not just comfort.
He went on to say that “the Left” doesn’t understand this desire for dignity, not just comfort.

 Dear Mr. Ryan;
I don't like labels, but I confess, that you would label me as a liberal because I believe that working together (my civic understanding of government is just that) we can provide what a child needs which includes a full stomach.  I have worked with children all of my adult life, and I know that without a full stomach a child will have an empty brain. I acknowledge the idea that is expressed above, knowing all too well that a child desperately needs to feel that s/he is important to another living soul.  Mr. Ryan, stop suggesting that people who YOU label liberal do not understand dignity.  That statement only drives us further into camps that attack one another.  Teachers spend a lot of time focusing on a child's dignity whether they vote Republican or Democratic. The food is not intended to fill up the child's soul.  It is meant only to make the child comfortable enough to learn and find the support and friendship that is available in the school to fill his soul.

You see, Mr. Ryan, school is filled with people who's souls are overflowing. The child has to be open to receive that overflow.  Teachers, counselors, librarians, and others there have chosen a life of service to children.  They are conservatives, liberals, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and yes, even Atheists who know the value of love and offer opportunities to their young charges to grow in love and caring.  Children have a natural desire to help one another.  I have watched as they accommodate a child in the classroom who is homeless and acting out in destructive ways.  I have seen teachers and parents who bring clothing and caring to the school to support these children.

Mr. Ryan you are quite right.  A full stomach doesn't fill the soul.   That job happens after the child has a full stomach.  It happens when teachers, parents and children come together to provide the love that is missing in a young life.  NONE OF THAT WILL HAPPEN IF THE CHILD IS HUNGRY!  If we (the government-- we the people) feed hungry children it is not an evil, soul destroying event!  It is not a panacea for a societal problem.  It is an opportunity to intervene and offer hope.

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