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‘The kids are just happier’: could California’s universal school meal program start a trend? []


By Victoria Namkung, Photo: Matt Kelly Elementary Community School, The Guardian, September 26, 2022

Before California became the first state to implement a universal meals program for its 6.2 million public school students, Alyssa Wells would keep granola bars in her classroom for students who complained of being hungry.

When the new program began in August at Foussat elementary school in Oceanside, California, which is primarily attended by Latino students from low-income families, the teacher noticed immediate changes in her students. “The kids are eating way more and they’re more focused, eager to learn and they’re just happier,” she said. “They’ve got one less thing to worry about.”

In San Diego county, where Oceanside is located, more than 14%, or 100,000 children, are food insecure, with a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.

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As a moral thus ethical rule (for me at least), a physically and mentally sound future should be every child’s fundamental right — along with air, water, food and shelter — especially considering the very troubled world into which they never asked to enter.

I'm of the school of thought that the health of all children needs to be of real importance to everyone — and not just concern over what other parents’ children might or will cost us as future criminals or costly cases of government care, etcetera — regardless of how well our own developing children are doing. ... It is a plain fact that mindlessly 'minding our own business' too often proves humanly devastating.

And maybe people should not procreate, let alone prolifically, if they’re unable to rear a child in a psychologically functional/healthy manner.

Owing to the Only If It’s In My Own Back Yard mindset, however, the prevailing collective attitude (implicit or subconscious) basically follows: ‘Why should I care — my kids are alright?’ or ‘What is in it for me, the taxpayer, if I support social programs for other people’s troubled families?’

While some people will justify it as a normal thus moral human evolutionary function, the self-serving OIIIMOBY can debilitate social progress, even when social progress is most needed. And it seems this distinct form of societal penny wisdom but pound foolishness is a very unfortunate human characteristic that’s likely with us to stay.

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