I thank Pete Aleshire (in Friday’s Aug. 15 editorial) for picturing me as a caring, civic-minded person.
I absolutely do care about children and families that struggle to put food on the table. When I was questioning the federal program in which the school district provides free and reduced price breakfasts and lunches to students, even during school breaks and over the summer, I remembered my pledge to look out for the taxpayers’ money. I admit that when I get flustered I speak without thinking things through, and never intended to put down parents or call them names.
However, this federal program, which was originally intended to help families through temporary tough financial times, has become an institution in itself. My point was, there needs to be some accountability — some “hand up” to go with the “hand out” to prevent enabling parents into long-term dependency and to become once again responsible for feeding their own children.
I suggested during the board meeting that churches or other civic organizations sponsor/encourage financial counseling, i.e. family budgeting, business skills, or require AA/NA meetings for those who need that kind of help. If a parent is not working, they could certainly volunteer at the school or somewhere else to build a resumé for the future.
I also realize we have been through six years of very tough economic times. To hear that 70 percent of district families qualify for free or reduced breakfasts and lunches really surprised me.
Many of those parents must also qualify for SNAP debit cards so they can purchase food to feed their families. I have firsthand knowledge of the “benefits” that a single mom with two children can receive. The $500 per month SNAP benefit definitely can cover the cost of providing a breakfast at home and a sack lunch if there is a will to do so.
I just hope that parents will take a look at themselves as role models for their children and realize that a whole lot of taxpayer money is funding those school meals. This federal bureaucracy, like so many others, spends most of our tax money on administration and regulation, with very little going to the actual cost of the meals being provided. I voted no on funding the federal program to make a point, not to prevent needy children from having a good breakfast and lunch.
Thanks for allowing me to share my point of view.
Shirley Dye, member, Payson School Board