Is Longfellow’s summer lunch program unfairly competing with private businesses?

The summer lunch program at Longfellow Elementary that offers free meals to kids and $3 meals to adults was roundly praised in a story we published today.

This morning, while I was covering the Davison County Commission meeting, Commissioner John Claggett raised some interesting questions about the story. He wonders if the free and cheap lunches are cutting into the business of local restaurants, and he wonders if the government should be dabbling in the summertime meal business.

What do you think?

16 thoughts on “Is Longfellow’s summer lunch program unfairly competing with private businesses?

  1. Mr. Claggett needs to realize that school lunch may be the only meal some children receive during the day. While they are in school, they get lunch through the free lunch program. However, now that school is out, these kids have lost the only meal that they could count on. Most of the kids and parents that take advantage of this lunch program are not able to afford to go to a resturant. I see it as helping the people in need instead of hurting the businesses that probably don’t feel it anyway. I think there are larger issues for Mr. Claggett to worry about besides taking food away from hungry kids.

  2. Most people who partake in this program probably would eat at home if they didn’t eat at Longfellow. I’m sure our restaurants aren’t losing out on THOUSANDS of dollars because of this program. Geez!!

  3. I don’t eat out.
    If the children of the neighborhood are able to get a meal, instead of P and B sandwich, because their parents are working. Good! They would not be taken to MCD or Burger K for lunch, so let them have a decent meal near their homes.

  4. And then we wonder why the county commissioners need to meet every week. It is plain to see that they do not have enough to occupy their time while they are at the meetings. And Jerry Fisher said he thinks the commisisoners are doing a good job of looking after the countys concerns.

  5. Sorry guys. Claggett had a point. Everyone that eats at Longfellow is NOT necessarily someone that can’t afford to buy lunch elsewhere. You all think this is great, but who do you go to for sponsorship of anything and everything??? McDonald’s, Burger King, Coca-Cola, Pepsi…on and on.

  6. I am sure there are people that take advantage of the food at Longfellow. The program is not set up to be dished out based on income. However, I am concerned about the children and families that get their only nutritional meal of the day at Longfellow. I don’t think people realize how much this program is counted on. People have been laid off, or are under-employed. They still have a family to feed, rent/mortgage to pay, electricity bills etc. It is evident in today’s economy that businesses have cut back on their donations. This was evident when asking for donations for a cause recently. I would rather see McDonald’s and Burger King give out free meals to people in need rather than have them donate sponsorships – even though they are all worthwhile causes. I just have a hard time seeing children and people go hungry when we are fortunate to have a progam that will feed them. Maybe Claggett needs to walk in the shoes of some of the people that rely on the program.

  7. Some of you have raised a good point — I don’t think Claggett was concerned about needy people and kids eating at Longfellow. He was concerned that anyone can eat there, even if they can well afford to frequent a local restaurant instead.

  8. How old is Mr. Claggett? Is he on Medicare? If so, isn’t that competing with private insurance?

    I had never heard of this lunch program until today, but it is an absolutely great program. Who cares whether some people could afford another restaurant. At least with this program they will be assured some nutritional value to their meals.

  9. If restaurants in Mitchell are losing customers to (I can’t believe I’m typing this) the SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM at Longfellow Elementary, then they need to step up their game. Good grief.

  10. Really? Apparently it’s a slow month in Mitchell if one of the most pressing topics is whether poor people would be spending money they don’t have on Happy Meals to get by. I’m guessing the free lunches at Longfellow aren’t exactly going to get glowing writeups in the food review column anytime soon, so I’m not sure how much competition they’re putting to the multi-kazillion dollar conglomerates feeding fast food to the masses. Trust me – no one at McDonalds is losing any sleep over what Longfellow’s doing with their free lunch program. If they’re not worrying about it, maybe Claggett should shut his piehole and simply do nothing. The world would be a better place.

  11. Really, it’s less than three months of the year when the resturaunts should be busier with tourists. The bulk of the people eating there are kids who otherwise may not get a halfway healthy meal all day through no fault of anyone’s that’s the hand their families were dealt, unfortunatley. Childhood obesity is fueld by fast food and this is not fast food. The “produce bar” looks great and is vey well stocked with healthy choices. doubled in the last year and we are going to criticize this program?
    The number of people using the food pantry has close to what,
    When did it become county governments job to worry about private enterprise?
    Oh, and those sponsorships and donations, the amount of people that are brought in to town for such a given event more than make up for them. Most resturaunts are glad to give them because the one meal or cone they give away brings in the entire family to spend aother twenty or thirty bucks. That’s the reason they do it.

  12. My apologies for being so late to respond my opinion on this 2009 blog. 2008 was a challenging year for my family up until Feb of this year, Many things arose that was not expected like new baby, death in the family, illness and job loss and wage deduction, But I did not get the newspaper during this economic downward spiral, along with we had to do some other financial cut backs, like sell our camper, sell our second vehicle, go to basic cable, cut out our landline, shop sales, secondhand stores and garage sale shop, weekly shop with coupons for our groceries. Never ate out, never went to the movies or any extra curricular activities, dyed my hair at home, fought with our bank for 2 yrs for a loan modification on our mortgage. We only spent money on our kids education, activities and their needs far more than ours. Oh and I feed my kids in the summer at home with P&Js, I bought my fresh fruit and washed and cut it myself and their vegetables .I didn’t know it was a shame to do this. Peanut butter has protein and whole wheat bread is nutritional. We did for 6 mos have to be place on food stamps and my children were on medicade until we were able to get back on our feet. My husband got a job and I opened a daycare. We struggled but were able to manage to pull ourselves out of the red….took time and a lot of sacrifice but did it! I even went to a couple Longfellow summer lunches with my kids, but when I looked around the cafeteria and saw people’s kids their eating lunch that parents hadn’t had financial downfalls with their jobs with the economy and parents their eating and only paying $3.00 and having their kids eating free lunch that were making a 60 plus to a 100 plus salary a year! I was shocked! I went home gladly n made a P&J sandwhich for my kids! Seriously! I understand what Clagget was saying and everybody took it out of text! The program is a great program for the kids and people that durng the school year qualify for the free program and need help even in the summer months. But it is a federal funded program and people that CAN AFFORD TO FEED THIER KIDS ARE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF IT! That money will run out soon because of them….it wont last forever And what of the poor families then that cant afford a nutritious meal? Will the families that could afford to provide for their own that ate free with those who couldn’t….will they open their own kitchens up and provide for those then when the federal money has been soaked dry? I doubt it. Big surprise that the numbers go down when it rains and the pool closed. I wonder why? The poor and hungry aren’t poor and hungry when it rains and the pool is closed? Could it because the financially stable it just isn’t convenient for them to go when the pool is closed? And why should the well off give back to the local businesses during the tourist season too? This is our community and we want it to survive and thrill correct? Good grief is right! People open your eyes, close your mouth to the free food and open your wallets and stick it where it should go and stop soaking our government dry and stop taking advantage of what the program for Longfellow is really for. If you want to eat there then pay the $3.00 for all your family if you can afford it. A family of 4…that’s only $16.00 to eat a full nutritious meal…pretty darn cheap. And more on a personal note…to the comment on the blogger that told Clagget to shut his piehole…class act should be so very proud in the way you posted your opinion. Are you one of those working parents that cant provide a meal in a crockpot or a premade meal in the frig for your child while your at work? I have only one word for you….its spelled L A.Z.Y ! ! Anybody that can afford to feed their own families and are taking away from the longevity of this program should be ashamed. This program is a great thing for the less fortunate and should be there for those children. The world would definitely be a better place we just stop and think about what this program is for and use or heads even though the government should be regulating this program like during the school year food program because it will be gone soon if we don’t stop taking the freebies when we are not eligible!

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