On waste and 'empty' stomachs

web posted August 1997

A Health Canada study released just a few days ago found that up to 75 per cent of those attend school lunch and breakfast programs are there because of convenience instead of financial need.

The report looked at several programs in Atlantic Canada, one of the poorest regions in the country.

"Children dropped off by hurried lawyers in Cadillacs are mingling with students from homes with near-empty cupboards," stated one line in the piece.

"We're finally hearing the Canadian family say that it's a nightmare to get everyone up in the morning and out to meet the obligations of work while getting breakfast into their small children," said co-author Lynn McIntyre.

Nightmare indeed.

McIntyre, instead of being disappointed that the programs were being massively abused by people who could easily afford to feed their children, advocates expanding the program to meet the needs of "people in the 90s".

"There are enormously mixed messages being sent around," she said. "These programs are absolutely wonderful and do serve a family-stress purpose for people who are hurried in the morning and trying to get their children off to school.

"But on the other hand, they're still not reaching the children they should be and it's time for us to talk seriously about whether this partial solution is having any impact at all on those families."

It is telling, that in an era where means testing federal benefits is discussed more seriously than ever, when political parties demand that the wealthy be taxed more, that middle class families continue to be squeezed for every last dollar, that an expansion of a program that is not simply working is actually promoted by a university professor working at the behest of a government agency.

Rather than admit that the programs do a poor job of attempting to solving a problem that exists, McIntyre instead believes that relieving families of an important obligation is the best way to go.

Rather than tell families it is their obligation to feed their children if they are able to, McIntyre now recommends that families be given the opportunity to transfer it to a church group or a government agency.

The time has come to develop more universal school-meal programs so they can help more stressed and poor families, said McIntyre.

This illustrates exactly why less government is needed in this country. Faced with evidence dug up by her own hand which shows the program abused, McIntyre, calls for an expansion. Not content with ten programs in Atlantic Canada being abused, McIntyre wants ten provinces to be abused.

And who pays this massive abuse and transfer of responsibility from the individual to the collective? You do.

The universal programs that Canada is currently burdened with are rife with abuse, be it social assistance or medicare, employment insurance. We have a series of programs which are proving to be abused, and still the call for a universal school breakfast/lunch program is heard.

McIntyre may also be the best argument for private schools that I've heard in a long time. The biggest problem today with academia seems to be the academics.

No more universal programs!

Thanks for visiting ESR!

Gord Gekko

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