School is all about teaching children how the real world works. So if there is no such thing as a free lunch in the real world, should the same principle apply in our schools? West Virginia Delegate Ray Canterbury seems to think so.
During a recent debate over West Virginia's Feed to Achieve Act, Canterbury suggested that kids who cannot afford lunch should have to work for it instead.
"I think it would be a good idea if perhaps we had the kids work for their lunches: trash to be taken out, hallways to be swept, lawns to be mowed, make them earn it," Canterbury said
. "If they miss a lunch or they miss a meal they might not, in that class that afternoon, learn to add, they may not learn to diagram a sentence, but they'll learn a more important lesson."
Canterbury added that he thinks free lunches will undermine children's work ethics, saying the bill is "teaching students they don't have to work hard."
Canterbury's suggestions were met with staunch opposition during floor debates.
"I'm offended anybody in this body would dare say a child has to work for their meals," said
Del. Meshea Poore. "I can't believe someone would say a first-grader, a second-grader ... a fifth-grader has to labor before they eat. This isn't an entitlement bill."
West Virginia House of Delegates Majority Leader Brent Boggs echoed
Poore's sentiments. "It is pathetic that in a country as wealthy as this, that we're talking about whether we should feed kids or not. Somebody better check your pulse and see if you're still living if these things don't touch you."
The Feed to Achieve Act will set up non-profit organizations to solicit donations for school lunch programs. The FAA is notable in that it is one of the first legislative measures to combine private donations with federal funding for school lunch programs. One primary goal of the bill is to provide every child with a free breakfast and lunch.
The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support in the state house, passing via an 89-9 vote. It is expected to be signed into law by West Virginia governor Earl Tomblin by the end of April.