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There’s no such thing as a free lunch – or breakfast

There’s no such thing as a free lunch – or breakfast

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
July 2, 2024

Idaho media outlets reported on the Boise School District’s new “free” breakfast program and wrote about it as if there couldn’t possibly be any downside to the initiative. 

The school district said it has committed to providing free breakfast at all its schools, regardless of household income. The media went with the district’s positive account of how kids will be able to go to school, never worrying that the lack of a nice breakfast would get in the way of their learning.

But as economist Milton Friedman said, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” This could be applied to anything — and any meal — government might offer up as “free.”

Obviously, nothing is free when it comes to government. Every single taxpayer in the district is now on the hook for the cost of the program, and no news outlet bothered to inquire about the new program’s ongoing burden on property taxes, much less the cost to each individual taxpayer. 

Most parents are likely to opt to take advantage of the program, even if they’re perfectly capable of providing their kids’ breakfast. Why wouldn’t they? Surely, parents are not going to be inclined to go through the hassle of preparing breakfast for their kids when the government is providing a meal for free. Doing so means they’ll be paying for breakfast twice. 

For parents who believe it is important to spend time with their kids, share meals, and talk about the day ahead, the school district is offering a deal that is impossible to pass up. The district will effectively be assuming the role of the parent, diminishing the value of moms and dads who heretofore were willing to go through the effort. 

Such commandeering of parental roles should be condemned, not praised. Even leftists argue parental involvement is important in a child’s academic success, but here we have a district, once again, taking parental involvement away. The IFF successfully defeated a policy this past session to give kids EBT cards in the summer for free lunches. Leave it to the Boise School District, though, to find a way to condition families and children to be dependent on government handouts.

And they won’t stop there. More worrisome is the fact that existing government policies always are the blueprint for the next policy. Years ago, schools didn’t offer children meals. Kids showed up to class with the midday meals prepared by a parent or guardian. Lunchboxes and bag lunches were very common. Eventually, schools took over the responsibility for lunch, and accordingly, rare is the child who brings home-prepared food to school.

Some school districts of late have taken on as theirs the duty to provide after-school meals and breakfasts. Now breakfast is free. How long will it be before school districts decide it’s the district’s job to make sure kids have free dinner? Don’t think it’s crazy talk. School districts not open in the summer have already stepped in to provide free lunch and dinner during vacation months. It’s just a matter of time before school officials reason that since they provide meals when schools are closed, why not when schools are open?  

Bear in mind that the Boise School District, like most of the government schools in Idaho and across America, is an academic failure. More than half the kids enrolled will graduate without the skills they need to read, write, and do math with the proficiency to succeed in the world. 

This poor performance is not due to a lack of free meals. It is due to a lack of competition that would give parents and students better options. The Boise School District has a long history of neglecting student success in favor of promoting  social programs and furthering their woke agenda. Many parents stuck in the District would jump at the opportunity to educate their kids elsewhere through real school choice. Free summer meals are so off-point, they just don’t make sense.

Programs like these foster the cradle to grave welfare system encouraging dependence, weakening families, and expanding government control. Idahoans must reject the nanny state manufactured by the Boise School District, or they will soon discover the cost of “free” meals comes from their pocketbooks and their liberties.

Idaho Freedom Foundation
802 W. Bannock Street, Suite 405, Boise, Idaho 83702
p 208.258.2280 | e [email protected]
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