The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 2, 2013

Feeding our kids

— The stories are out there, and we’ve heard them many times recently: West Virginia kids only getting fed when they come to school, some packing away part of the food from school to take it home to hungry siblings.

If this doesn’t concern us all, we’re wired improperly.

As a select Senate panel continues to delve into the state’s poverty problem, the entire Senate voted unanimously last week to support legislation that would institute public-private funding partnerships that would enable the state to become the nation’s first to make breakfast and lunch available to all students without charge.

We didn’t use the word free, because they will be paid for via federal and private funds, but kids and their parents won’t get a bill.

More than half of West Virginia’s school kids already qualify for reduced-price or free lunches under federal guidelines.

Nobody likes the idea that we have to have programs like this, but in this great country of ours we need to see to it that no child goes hungry, no matter the circumstances.

A kid being hungry impacts classroom performance. It also may impact attendance. We suspect both of those areas can be greatly improved with the assistance of this plan.

Now opponents of the proposal are already barking about “feeding millionaires’ kids.” That’s a childish argument. First, how many of West Virginia’s 282,310 come from homes whose parents are millionaires? The answer — very, very few.

Besides that, school kids who come from homes that are middle class or higher have relatively easy access to food outside the school and don’t experience the same issues with hunger that many of their classmates do.

But making the breakfast and lunch available to all kids in school is a good thing.

The United States has long tried to feed the hungry and clothe the poor of the world. Doing something to make sure we are properly addressing those in need right here in America needs to get more attention.

This idea does just that.