Roughly 567 million lunches were served this May as part of the National School Lunch Program, data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture state. But is it the federal government's job to make sure kids get lunch?
U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin (R-MO) isn't so sure, as St. Louis Public Radio reported this week. During a stop at the Missouri State Fair, he said that while he's not against school lunches, he thinks the responsibility is one that could be better handled by states.
Roughly 646,000 Missouri students participated in the federal lunch program during fiscal year 2011, data show. That's down from 649,000 the previous year but up from the years 2007-09, when participation stood between roughly 639,000 and 645,000 annually.
By comparison, the fiscal year 2011 lunch-program participation of neighboring states varied:
- Illinois: 1.16 million
- Iowa: 397,000
- Kansas: 362,000
- Arkansas: 353,000
In fiscal year 2010, the federal government spent $9.7 billion on the lunch program, the Food Research & Action Center states. The nonprofit aims to improve policy in an effort to end hunger. The lunch program "makes it possible for all school children in the United States to receive a nutritious lunch every school day," the center's website states.
For the 2011-12 school year, participating schools in most states received $2.77 in reimbursements for free lunches, $2.37 for reduced-price lunches and $0.26 for paid lunches.
Would you support ending federal support for school lunches? Do states have adequate funding and resources to provide food to kids in need? To what degree would such a system run efficiently? Are there alternatives that should be considered?