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Education = Profit

March 25, 2007

I recently attended the Community Food Security Coalition conference and it was so inspiring. I have been thinking about how education and food for students is funded in my attempts to facilitate positive changes such as the Farm to School Lunch Program.

The thing that keep sticking me in the squishy part of my brain is stuck like quicksand sucks in a  giraffe is why do school lunch programs have to not loose money? Time and time again I read articles citing why Farm to School salad bars and such do not work and how school districts loose money each year and therefore are not successful?

The reasons for the cost increase is that actual people need to prepare and serve the food versus warehouses of heat and serve centers that simply truck food to schools and because there is no cooking involved or un-packaged food you need minimal people to oversee and take money. In order for schools to qualify for USDA subsidies you have to have a certain percentage of free and reduced priced meals. My sons school has a huge percentage..I think upwards of 70% and many other funding issues are tied into that because free/reduced lunch participants denotes a child at risk and therefore you may receive or qualify for other funding opportunities. Which is great, right? Yes, BUT..

Why do school districts have the idea that school lunch must sustain itself or not cost too much in extra money not provided for by the government when there are literally thousands of public service type organizations that NEVER turn any kind of profit and are not expected to. For example, we have to feed prisoners, house them, watch over them, provide them health care and a judicial system in which to process them. We don’t expect any of those institutions to make money, do we?

Why is it that we can dole out money (and not nearly enough for these examples..) for prisons, libraries and the police force locally not to mention the military and defences systems federally and we do not expect them to turn a profit or keep to a budget? Need more money for the military? Sheesh..you just tell congress and they make it so–especially right now considering that we have sent millions of soldiers into harms way for no good fucking reason and have killed thousands of them for this ridiculous “war”.

Spending money up front to keep adults out of jail by education them, providing them with adequate nutrition so they can learn seems like a practical solution. Our country in general seems not be so keen on practical but this is obviously practical to me. A report I recently read stated that their Farm to School program was not successful because it cost the school district $5000 more dollars to operate the first year. That seems like a small and paltry amount of money to make  a small effort to provide better nutrition to public school students.

Education is an undeniable right in our country. Educating people makes more money and saves more money in the long run. The percentage of 3rd graders unable to read at grade level is how cities determine how many prisons to build in 15 years. That is ridiculous that our government officials know how the level and quality of education will correlate to the crime levels later on but choose to allocate money for prisons rather than funneling that money into schools, highly qualified teachers and aides, improving school buildings, buying better resources for teaching and sponsoring teams, clubs and books.

Does it really seem asinine to just me? Are our politicans so far removed from this system that it just does not effect them therefore they do not care? (gosh…how many times have I said therefore? It sounds so offical but maybe I should try another word?)

If you are fortunate enough to live in an area with a high tax bracket, filled with semi-affluent and educated parents your school may be pretty okay. If you are a product of our inner city schools and are working your ass off at low paying jobs because the education  you received was substandard and your parents were forced to live in similar circumstances and were educated by the same system this problem just perpetuates itself.

If you are moderately well off–say middle to upper middle class to rich you have a pretty decent chance of being fairly well educated in our public school sysytem. If not, you are totally fucked and if you can’t read by 3rd grade stats say you will most likely end up in prison as an adult.

Truly education should not be in any way equated with making a profit unless you  measure that in the future success of its students and not how much it costs to feed and educate them now.

(stepping off soap box to mutter to myself and anyone else that will listen. I might just get a sandwich board and stand on my street corner. Honk if you love education!!)

the end.

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