1. Opinion

For these kids, maybe there really is no free lunch | Column

Why, just think of all the savings from cutting school lunch programs, writes Daniel Ruth.
Elementary school students go through the lunch line in the school's cafeteria in Paducah, Kentucky. [ELLEN O'NAN  |  AP]
Elementary school students go through the lunch line in the school's cafeteria in Paducah, Kentucky. [ELLEN O'NAN | AP]
Published Dec. 6, 2019

Thank goodness that ever vigilant fiscal watchdog, the penny-pinching President Donald J. Trump, is cracking down on those shiftless, lazy, free-loading lay-abouts living high on the hog off the federal purse.

School children! There’s nothing worse than a self-entitled fourth-grader. So demanding, expecting to eat now and then. Why don’t they go out and get a job? Better yet, why don’t they go back to where they came from, wherever that is.

If Trump’s Department of Agriculture has its way, in short order the number of people enrolled in the federal food stamp program, otherwise known as SNAP, will be greatly reduced.

Dan Ruth

And why not? You know, Fancy Feast isn’t so bad with ketchup.

Nationwide, the SNAP reductions would impact roughly three million moochers, including about 328,000 low income Floridians. The cuts would also result in about 200,000 children in Florida losing access to free school lunches as part of the National School Lunch Program.

Let’s think of this as a valuable teaching moment for these coddled waifs, an excellent lesson in the harsh realities of life. It will stiffen their spines, splash a cold dose in their faces of what to expect for the rest of their lives. After all Trump himself began life barely scrapping by a $200,000 annual allowance from his daddy. This is a man who has an innate sense of hardship. Here’s a tip -- Meow Mix isn’t half bad with a bit of American cheese.

The Trump administration has estimated that by cutting the fat out of the SNAP program the changes in determining eligibility for benefits would result in a tidy $90 million a year in feeding free lunches to all those sniveling, snot-nosed, day-dreaming school children.

In Florida the moves could deny automatic eligibility for free lunches to about 58 percent of Hillsborough County students, 67 percent of Hernando students, 50 percent of Pinellas students, 55 percent of Pasco students and some 71 percent of students attending public school in Miami-Dade. Good. Less mess to clean up in the cafeteria.

There are probably some cynics out there who might argue the proposed SNAP and free lunch cuts might betray the lie, especially among conservative Republicans, about how much they love the children.

But there really is no disconnect here. These folks do indeed love the children. In fact, they firmly believe their balderdash about how the children are our future. And don’t even think for a second about aborting one of these kiddos that they adore so much because, they are (everybody now) our future.

The Trump junta and its supporters simply don’t want to spend any money on these tots they love so much. And they certainly aren’t interested in automatically giving some poor (literally) school child a free lunch. Really now, once you give an impoverished little boy or girl a free lunch, they next thing you know they’ll expect a free lunch every day. Socialism is what it is.

How can you possibility instill a sense of rugged individualism and an appreciation for liberty and freedom if you start throwing around free baloney sandwiches as if they were defense contracts?

As a matter of fact that $90 million in school lunch savings literally taking bread out of the mouths of nearly a million children nationwide covers the cost of building a single F-35 Joint Strikeforce fighter jet, which is on pace to cost the taxpayers an estimated $1.1 trillion over the life of the plane, a cost overrun of about $22 billion from the program’s original estimated budget. That’s a lot of mustard.

In a sense, all those ungrateful school children, including the 200,000 youths in Florida, should consider themselves patriots. They should be willing to sacrifice their free school lunch so that one of the biggest defense contracts/corporate welfare scams in the nation’s history can continue to pump billions of dollars into the coffers of some 1,300 different suppliers across the country to produce a dubious weapons system that costs $44,000 per hour whenever it actually gets into the air.

Besides the F-35 is far sexier than a plate of macaroni and cheese.

Really, a slice of Spam isn’t half bad if you drown it in Mountain Dew.

The proposed SNAP and free school lunch cuts are a brilliant political move on the part of the president and his merry band of Scrooges.

It’s hard to imagine any of these income-challenged families were ever going to vote for Trump in the first place. Meanwhile, candidate Trump burnishes his bona fides as a small government crusader.

It’s a win-win. With a side dish of hypocrisy. Perfect.


  1.  [Chip Bok --]
  2. Teachers and supporters march during the Florida Education Association's "Take on Tallahassee" rally at the Old Capitol in Tallahassee. [PHIL SEARS  |  AP]
    Here’s what readers are saying in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
  3. Florida's unemployment rate hit a record low in December. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File) [LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP]
    Nearly every major job sector posted gains from a year earlier.
  4. The entrance to Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa. [Courtesy of Moffitt Cancer Center]
    The secret jobs and payments provided by China to researchers at the University of Florida and Moffitt Cancer Center are greater than initially reported. A House committee should keep investigating.
  5. The Florida Aquarium celebrates its 25th year. And it has much to show for it.
    A magnet in Tampa Bay for tourism, conservation and regional growth.
  6. Mac Stipanovich
    Whether it’s regulating the collection of voter signatures on the front end or passing new laws on the back end, they seek to silence the voices of the governed.
  7. St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway and U.S. Attorney, Middle District of Florida, Maria Chapa Lopez, announced the Department of Justice awarded a $741,556 grant to the St. Petersburg Police Department for three years to create a regional Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force at the department. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    The Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Force is a unique opportunity to bridge the gap of local law enforcement and reduce human trafficking.
  8. A rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation this week would allow airlines to crack down on personal pets that are carried aboard as so-called service animals. [MARK SCHIEFELBEIN  |  AP]
    Trained dogs are fine. Pigs and turkeys—uh, no.
  9.  [Andy Marlette -- Pensacola News Journal]
  10. Farmers in Florida have the potential to make real impact in the climate crisis, according to these columnists.
    We need science to show how farms can capture more carbon, how forests and pastures can clean more air.