PARENTS are furious as their school district has put an end to a free meals program because kids could "become spoiled and addicted."
The Waukesha school board in Milwaukee is the only school district in the state of Wisconsin that has stopped a federally funded program that offers free meals to students — sparking an uproar from parents in support of it.
Parents of the school district, which educates approximately 14,000 students, are now speaking out about the unwanted change.
Karen Fraley, a mom with two students in the district, told The Washington Post: "Even if it’s not my kid who needs that food, it’s just a matter of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and understanding that we all need to take care of each other."
She slammed the school board for seeming "out of touch with people" after it was decided on June 9 to go back to the district's pre-pandemic National School Lunch Program.
The pre-pandemic program offers free and lower-priced lunch options to eligible students who apply.
Since the decision was made in June, a group of approximately 900 parents and teachers, called the Alliance for Education in Waukesha, has been urging the district to return to the free-for-everyone meals.
Dave Dringenburg, a dad who has children in the district who never qualified for the school lung programs, told the news outlet that he was disappointed in the school's decision to opt out of the free lunch program.
He also said the school officials "seem to be out of touch with the community’s needs."
School board member Karin Rajnicek said the program made it likely for families to "become spoiled" The Washington Post reported.
Data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, obtained by the news outlet, revealed that 36 percent of the student body in the Waukesha School District were eligible to get the free, reduced-priced food in 2018-2019.
And an assistant superintendent for business services, Darren Clark, suggested a "slow addiction" to the service could arise.
"When you compare last summer's number of meals served to the current summer's level of participation, it is down 40 percent," the Waukesha School District said regarding the change, WISN reported.
The district continued: "This indicates a lowering in the demand for this program.
"When looking at the free breakfast program, especially at the high school level, each student was handed a meal as they walked in the door.
"This led to a significant amount of uneaten food and meal-related materials ending up in the trash."
Not only are parents mad about the school district, but the executive director of Hunger Task Force also doesn't seem to approve the move.
Hungry Task Force's Sherrie Tussler said the free food program "gives the district the opportunity to not sort children, to feed them all," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
"I would suggest this is either an uninformed or under-informed decision on the part of the school board," Tussler said about the school opting out of the free food program. "And it should be revisited quickly, because it’s going to result in a loss of substantial revenue for the school system, and that revenue could be used to create additional programming or improve the quality of the food on the plate."
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