Free Breakfasts: Another Destructive Progressive Idea

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced last week that it will discontinue the free school breakfast plan it initiated last year.

Called "Food for Thought," the plan provides school breakfasts to about 200,000 students.

It was funded by the LAUSD and the nonprofit Los Angeles Fund for Public Education, whose goal is to raise the number who participate to about 450,000 students (out of a total of 645,000 in the entire district).

If you go to the fund’s website (, you are greeted with these messages: "Learn to dream" (in English and in Spanish) and "Imagine your life without limits." These are essentially meaningless messages. But, as we shall see, the fund’s breakfast program is not only meaningless; it is quite destructive.

The reasons for the announced cancellation were that the program had drawn rodents and insects into classrooms, and that classroom learning time was being wasted by students eating for long periods in class.

But the rodents, insects and disruption of class learning time are nothing in terms of destructiveness compared to the free breakfast itself.

First, the program was created to solve a problem that does not exist.

It is inconceivable that there are five, let alone 200,000 or the projected 450,000, homes in Los Angeles that cannot afford breakfast for their child. A nutritious breakfast can be had for less than a dollar. For examples, go to, which lists five "Breakfast Ideas for a Buck."

Second, it both enables and encourages irresponsible, disinterested and incompetent parenting. Given how inexpensive breakfast can be (not to mention the myriad public and private programs that provide food for poor households), any home that cannot provide its child with breakfast demands a visit from child protective services. Any parent who cannot give a child breakfast is not too poor; he or she is too incapable of being, or too irresponsible to be, a competent parent.

Third, even where decent parents are involved, free breakfasts at school weaken the parent-child bond. Hundreds of thousands of parents who are able and happy to provide their child with breakfast have accepted the offer — because anything free is too enticing for an increasing number of Americans. But what they have done is made the proverbial deal with the devil. They have traded in one of the most fundamental definitions of parenthood — providing one’s children with food — for a dollar and for a little less work as a parent. As a result, these parents become less of a parent to their children.

And fourth, the free breakfast profoundly weakens young people’s character. When you grow up learning to depend on the state, you will almost inevitably — even understandably — assume that the state will take care of you. And you will grow up also assuming — as do Europeans, who give far less charity than Americans for this very reason — that the state will take care of your fellow citizens, including your own children.

These are the ways in which the left has damaged children and families through free school breakfasts.

But it gets worse. "Canceling" the program does not mean ending it.

Remember, the program is not being canceled because of its destructive effects on students and family life. The reasons it is being canceled are that rodents and insects infest classrooms, and that classroom learning time is wasted while the children stretch out breakfast eating time.

Therefore, the program is being shifted to the schools’ cafeterias. The public employee unions, which govern the state of California and the city of Los Angeles, have demanded that the program be shifted from the classroom to the school cafeterias so as to employ more cafeteria workers.

Virtually everything the left touches is either immediately or eventually harmed. The free breakfast program is only one, albeit a particularly dramatic, example.

Why, then, do progressives advocate it? Because it meets three essential characteristics of the left wing: It strengthens the state; it has governmental authority replace parental authority; and perhaps most importantly, it makes progressives feel good about themselves. The overriding concern of the left is not whether a program does good. It is whether it feels good.

Dennis Prager’s latest book, "Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph," was published April 24 by HarperCollins. He is a nationally syndicated radio show host and creator of PragerUniversity.Com.


  • MiMito3

    And your point is, you got yours and now I’ m going to take it.

  • genann59

    Why does this country provide foodstamps, WIC, and still have to feed the children who were supposed to be fed with the foodstamps and WIC? And the rodents and insects would not be infesting the schools if the kids were eating the food and not playing with it, no doubt food fights, which we had even in the Army when I was active duty during Vietnam. Young people with free food they don’t care for anyhow have food fights. And apparently instead of investing in more cafeteria help, if the kids are slobs, either ask them to clean up after themselves, like their parents should do but don’t, or hire better janitorial help. Food cleaned off floors and desks, no rodent/insect infestation. When I was helping at an animal shelter in W Texas I would buy sodas or bottled water on the hot days for the workers, many of whom were teens. I got so tired of having to go around after work to pick up discarded botttles or cans, I finally told them that I was neither their mama or their janitor, if they wanted free sodas or cold water, they damn well better throw them in the trash when they finished them or they would quit being provided at my personal expense. I was an unpaid volunteer, and the boss felt they could drink tap water out of the bathroom sink if they got thirsty. But it often got over 100 in the summer, and I felt like it would be better to have them have something cold to drink than chance heat stroke. But, at the same time, I was not willing to also clean up after them, cause their parents had never taught them to clean up their own garbage. And that sounds like that is the reason for rodents and or insects where these kids eat. It is too belittling to ask the children to clean up their own messes, might harm their little psyches.

  • JohnInMA

    Good grief. Sadly, you make no sense.

    • Wil

      To you people, I’m not surprised!

      • genann59

        Go cry on your therapist’s shoulder Wil. Yes, the world does owe you a living, life is not fair, and you are owed anything you want without making any effort to get it on your own. Uncle Obama will try to dry your tears. Keep believing it and feeling oppressed. The liberals laugh at people like you behind your back and refer to you as useful idiots.

        • Wil

          I don’t have a ‘therapist’. Do you? And, I have earned everything, I have. How about you?

  • ktRN

    Amen, Amen and Amen!!! Good grief. Set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier and feed your own kid in the morning…if money is a problem you might cut back on your cigs, tattoos, false nails, booze and salon triple highlighted hair….I have worked in health care for almost 20 years and I am here to tell you the “poor” indulge themselves in all of these things to the max!

    • Bruce A.

      You are spot on. Tell the welfare cases they have to lay out a few dollars for a Dr.s co-pay & watch the screaming & disbelief. Most I know already had cell phones long before the free ones were out.
      There are plenty of people who believe “if is’s free, it’s for me”.

      • genann59

        I had a friend who had had subsidized medical care for years for low income. She finally got put on SSID, and for the first two years on that got totally free healthcare. You should have heard her scream when she had been on SSID the required two years to be eligible for Medicare. When she found out she had a co-pay for the first time, she screamed, when she found out she had to pay a premium for healthcare insurance she really screamed, and when she found out her prescriptions were no longer free, nor did she have free dental and eye care she screamed really loud. Finally convinced the state to pay her medicare premiums and give her assistance on her prescriptions. I just told her, welcome to the real world. And she has a home phone, and had a cell phone she was paying for prior to getting her Obama phone. She kept and uses both since both have limited minutes. She gets double what she had been paying for by using the Obama phone until she has used her 200 minutes then switching over to the one she pays for. And because she is on disability she gets a break on her home phone bill and her power bills.

    • DanB_Tiffin

      So many of the liberals posting online are true limousine liberals. They never SEE any of this. They love these “victims” as long as they don’t have contact with them in THEIR neighborhood or THEIR workplace.

    • Mike Stokes

      What!! give up these things you’ve got to be kidding. Why should I give up these things I deserve them.

  • RickonhisHarleyJohnson

    The most important point you made, is ‘weaken the parent-child bond’. This is the agenda of the left.

  • another_engineer

    Face facts, this is money to Illegals. I thought that they were “hard working christ fearing people” — well, it turns out they’re parasites.

  • DanB_Tiffin

    Liberals LOVE victims, real or imagined. They can rescue them with other people’s money.

    • Wil

      You right-wingers couldn’t enjoy a meal, unless you knew someone was going

      • DanB_Tiffin

        Haven’t you heard Wil, the government doesn’t even call it hunger any more. They call it “food insecure” and you should read up on how even that phony label and number is arrived at. In other words, they are not HUNGRY, just parasites milking the system.

        Besides, I personally send money to a Toledo rescue where people actually show up to get fed. They do not get this food via an convenient anonymous EBT card funded by governmental force upon the taxpayer. It is food, it is not lap dances and extra cash for narcotics.

      • ktRN

        Wil…refer to my post….

      • genann59

        If they would use the food stamps for food and not sell them for drugs, alcohol or gas for their cars, they would not go hungry. The amount allocated for foodstamps is close to what the average working person pays for food, with money they actually earn, let alone pays for the foodstamps for those poor with the taxes they pay from the money they earn. And if some of them could stay off the drugs they buy with the foodstamps meant to feed their kids long enough they might actually be able to earn some money themselves and buy their food with money they earn. And have some real self respect. Wil, you apparently don’t understand the concept of self respect one feels when they actually earn their money and can buy their food with money they earned.

  • Wheels55

    Liberals who are well off (or at least think of themselves as well off) love to think of others as needing help. Liberals who are not well off (or think of themselves as needing something from others) will gladly take handouts. Contrast this with a conservative who is not well off (or does not think they are) and they will likely want to make their situation better rather than hold out their hand. Conservatives that think they are well off would rather give their money to non-government organizations in order to help others (this is the true test of being in control of your money rather than thoughtlessly handing money to someone else to do something nice for others).

  • JohnInMA

    In the era of ‘make no judgments’, we should expect to see many progressives make policy like this. More than once I’ve heard a talking head counter the point about corruption in the sharp rise in food benefits (SNAP, etc.) with feel good statements about how mostly only people in need who cannot afford to feed their family are benefiting. So, we did a test. My wife and two kids made an effort to spend a week eating on $20 a day, or less. It’s amazing how far money can go when you substitute things like oatmeal (even instant) for other cereals, buy FRESH produce in bulk quantities (oh my, probably genetically modified….horror!), and avoid the more expensive meats. We found we could eat fruits with every breakfast (not so much berries, but oranges and bananas and apples), and have a meat at each dinner – usually chicken and lean beef purchased in large packages, and a combination of fresh and frozen vegetables based on pricing without reaching the $20 limit. We even ‘splurged’ once on a reasonably tasty set of frozen pizzas without busting the daily limit. Fish was the only meat we avoided (expect for tuna in lunch sandwiches) to stay in budget.

    So, while there may be some isolated ‘urban food deserts’ here and there, the idea that many families cannot survive without food benefits may be more a matter of not trying than a matter of reality. For those who cannot afford the $10 or $20 a day, I get it. But are there really 50 million like that?

    • Wil

      My wife and two kids made an effort to spend a week eating on $20 a day, or less.>>

      And, this test lasted what… one week! Try it for an entire year and then, get back to us.

      • JohnInMA

        What’s your point? It cannot be done? It leads to malnutrition? It is boring? Not sure.

        My point was this: We ate balanced meals and never went hungry. Of course, some sacrifices were made (we like fish, for example), but it was entirely possible to do it without so much effort. For me the biggest surprise was finding out how much fresh produce is actually available in large packaging or in bulk. For example, we could buy enough potatoes and sweet potatoes to have them every other dinner (alternating sweet and Idaho) for 2 weeks for about $15. Certainly rice is available in restaurant size bulk. And a number of vegetables like carrots, peppers, and broccoli were available in sizes that could also last for weeks for about the same amount. It’s doable without spending hours on shopping, without relying on cheap prepared foods, or without becoming coupon mavens, in my experience.

      • ktRN

        Wil…WAAA WAAA…doesn’t sound boring to me..just sounds like harder work than eating fast food or free breakfast…

    • genann59

      When my friend’s daughter had four kids a few years back, she has one more now, she was getting about $450 in food stamps and WIC on two of the kids, and the two older kids were also getting free meals at school. And the oldest kid would take the food stamp card over to the convenience store across the street every day after school and buy a two liter Big Red and a big bag of cheetos. And the other kids would get sodas and candy bars with the food stamp cards just about every time they went out.I doubt most working parents can afford to let their kids indulge like that. I guess since their two main meals were provided at school and so grandma only had to fix dinner, they could afford to let the kids use them for candy, sodas and other snacks. Until Texas outlawed using them at fast food places, they would go the KFC and buy two great big boxes of fried chicken when they were having a party, with their food stamps, which, again, a lot of working people could not afford. And, of course, almost the entire family is obese.The four year old and five year old kids are “chubby,” the 8 year old and 18 year old are fat, the 9 year old is the only one who is not overweight. The mama and grandmother, who gets her own foodstamps are obese, the grandmother’s sister who recently died weighed in excess of 600 pounds when she died.The grandmother’s two sons, one of whom is on SSI, and they are 26, live with mama, are both obese. The son on SSI also gets food stamps. They clean up pretty good off the government. And her son’s father is a multimillionaire but is not required to provide support since they are adults. He does give them sons an allowance which I’m sure is never reported and has given them a car. He owns the house the entire family lives in and allows them to live there rent free on almost an acre of prime real estate. The house is old and falling apart, and I’m sure he is just holding on to it as an investment, cause that is how he has gotten so rich, and he will eventually sell it out from under them. No one in the house of relatively healthy adults works except for the 18 year old grandson who is graduating from high school next month and working part time after school and has somehow learned a work ethic in the midst of all that freeloading.