Why does mentioning free food for kids cause anger?

picture of Share Your Breakfast image to feed 1 hungry kid

I didn’t know that mentioning free food for kids would cause such a stir and such downright anger.  Earlier this week, I told you about a great campaign by Kellogg’s and Action For Healthy Kids to help feed hungry kids in the USA. I thought it was a great idea, one that I could back up.

After posting, there was a heated debate on our AkronOhioMoms Facebook Fanpage, including some not-so-kind accusations against those in need. Some people are worried that people are taking advantage of the system and we should not be supporting Kellogg’s cause to feed hungry kids. Whether you agree with free school lunches or breakfast or not, I find it unfair to judge people that you don’t personally know and make broad generalizations about people in need. Below is my facebook response that remains on our fan page, the accuser has sense deleted her comments.

Often people are needy because they have made/will continue to make bad decisions – whether its a educational thing or lack of opportunity to see what may be a better perspective. It’s a whole package – as a giver, you don’t get to pick and choose attributes of the needy or reasons for it!

It is so easy to point the finger at other people when your belly and kids’ bellies are full. The accuser stated that people that need the free food are not taking care of their kids, selling food stamps, and buying tattoos for themselves. Oh really? Where are the stats to back that up?! I know plenty of hard working “poor” people that could use the free lunch or breakfast program and they are tatto0-less and trying to provide for their families every single day.

My parents did not have tattoos

In my earlier article on the Kellogg’s Share your Breakfast campaign, I shared that I grew up in small towns in southern Ohio. Being a pastor’s family in small, struggling churches in rural Ohio, there wasn’t a large salary. My dad, like other pastors, was on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It didn’t matter that my dad has a masters degree and a passion for his career and people, we still were eligible for reduced lunches.  I had plenty of friends that had free or reduced lunches too.  Believe me, my parents did not have tattoos. My parents in fact did everything they could to provide for our family, including working 2 jobs.  I’m sitting here right now wondering if I should allow my pride to stay in tact and delete that. I won’t because pride isn’t something to put on a pedestal.

You might be surprised that the school lunch programs (and breakfast) are available to a fair amount of kids, they aren’t just for the poorest of poor but also for families earning a decent living. Does that mean that every family in the highest of eligibility will take advantage of the system? Certainly not, it means that there are hunger kids across all income levels. If a family making $10,000 a year needs free meals at school for their kids, let them have it. If a family making $35,000 a year needs free meals at school for their kids, let them have it. You never know what each family needs are, please don’t judge them. Please don’t judge the kids. They have no say in the matter. Do you think that they want looked down upon? Do you think it helps them later in life to be shamed as a child? Do you think it would be better for them to skip breakfast, lunch, or dinner? That’s absurd.

Kids are hungry in the USA, let’s feed them

Right now, 1 in 4 kids go hungry in the USA. That means that 25% of kids in your town (or more) don’t have the luxury of heading to the kitchen cabinet for 3 solid meals daily, let alone a snack. Why can’t we support causes that are donating to feed hungry kids at school?

picture of Share your breakfast with 1 million hungry kids
Share your breakfast with 1 million hungry kids

Here is an easy way, that won’t even take $1 out of your wallet. Between now and July 31, 2011, you can Share Your Breakfast. You can do this 2 ways.

  1. Upload photos or descriptions of your breakfast at ShareYourBreakfast.com
  2. Text your photo with the word “Share” to 21534.

Each time you share a picture of your breakfast, Kellogg’s will donate 1 kids breakfast meal to Action for Healthy Kids. The goal is to provide 1 Million breakfasts to kids in the 2011-2011 school year.

Even the act of taking a picture of your breakfast is sure to make you count your blessings as you are able to feed your family. Most mornings, we serve cereal with milk and juice at breakfast. This morning, it was Apple Jacks. This is what I submitted to ShareYourBreakfast.com this morning.

picture of Share Your Breakfast image to feed 1 hungry kid
Share Your Breakfast image to feed 1 hungry kid

Please help fight hunger by uploading a picture of your breakfast to ShareYourBreakfast.com. Thanks for listening to my concerns.

What do you think about this issue? Comment below.

This is a sponsored post through a compensated Mom Bloggers Club member program.

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Founder and Lead Blogger at Akron Ohio Moms
Cindy is the top Akron Blogger with her own take on awesome brands for families, where to vacation for families, a beat on local activities and family fun, a knack for getting moms to share , and a house that is always 2 weeks away from a complete remodel!
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22 thoughts on “Why does mentioning free food for kids cause anger?

  1. Cindy says:

    Wow, I’ve never thought of it that way, Betty. It could be possible that people are fearful that it could be them needing the assistance later on, who knows. People that give will give no matter what. People that are not generous will not be generous, no mater what their income.

  2. Betty says:

    I’ve been preparing tax returns and seeing a consistent pattern. Times are bad for many – we are seeing people with serious skills that have been on unemployment for 1 year, 2 years or more. Some lost long time jobs, eventually got rehired and then the new company will go under. Their savings is gone. They can’t afford medical care, can’t sell their houses to move anywhere with better job potential and appreciate whatever assistance helps their families out.
    I think those who haven’t lost their jobs or benefits are suffering from guilt and fear. They get very angry about people getting assistance and benefits and deep down … I think it’s because they are afraid everything will get used up and nothing will be there if and when they need it. Ask them about charity and this same reverse thing happens. Those with jobs and same money level as last year will loudly point out that times are soooooo tough for them, they haven’t been able to donate nothing to nobody.

  3. Cindy says:

    Tattoos are not the issue, Angie. I didn’t mean to word it in a way that would make people think I have anything against them, because I don’t. But you are right, people have no idea when a person got a tattoo or any other “non-essential” so how can they judge whether they are wasting “food money” that they could be using to feed their kids on non-essential items? They can’t. I think sometimes it makes a person feel better about not helping or caring about people in need when they can point fingers at what they think is the cause, it makes them feel like they get a “pass” card on not helping out. That’s just what I think. I’m not trying to judge the people judging either. It’s a fine line! Judging people doesn’t help anyone, ever.

  4. Angie Corey says:

    lol, I would note, I have 3 tattoos all of which I got while in college. So that also could be a point to be brought up, how does one know when the person got the tattoos? I didn’t have kids and wasn’t even married when I got the tattoos!

  5. John Darrow says:

    School lunch income eligibility is tied to family size and income. Free school lunches and breakfasts are available if a family’s income is below 130% of the poverty line; Reduced rate meals are available if family income is between 130% and 185% of the poverty line. http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/governance/notices/iegs/iegs.htm links to those levels for the last few years.

    Incomes and circumstances change over the years too. I’ve been in the higher income tax brackets and in the below taxable income brackets. I’ve known others in genuine need as well as those – a small fringe – who were just lazy and told us so (one particular guy who preferred being a bum then was on a news program about how people were poor through no fault of their own!)

  6. Tabathia B says:

    I am not quite sure where all this anger is coming from, but I wonder when the rich take advantage of the system and steal from everybody (ponzi schemes, etc) do “these” good people become offended of people taking advantage of the system with the government rescuing them (Hmmm). I wish before people start accusing people of things they get the proof and mind their business

  7. Karen says:

    Bravo Cindy! Clearly there are more of us who care about others and esp. all of the children.

  8. Tiffany R says:

    I am a single mother that grew up in a middle class family. Our needs were met and we got a little extra but were taught to work hard and strive to be the best we can be. Now, as a single mother, I am in college with a six year-old who does receive free lunches. I feel so fortunate that we are able to receive this help. I work 3 part-time jobs and go to school full-time. It is a blessing that while I work to better our lives, I can relax and know that my son will be fed a warm lunch at school.

    I do understand that people take advantage of the system at times, and mostly that is a socio-economic response to their childhood. They were raised in poverty and don’t know anything else. They are not taught, nor given the direction on how to get out of poverty. Survival is what is ingrained in their minds. They are taught how to survive from an early age. Changing that thinking; trying to teach someone that they deserve better and can make it happen, is extremely challenging.

  9. Beth says:

    Cindy–I appreciated your first Kelloggs article, and applaud this one! The truth is, much of America is just a few paychecks away from needing all sorts of assistance! Are there those that abuse the welfare system? You bet. Just as there are those in blue collar and whilte collar America that abuse the systems that they work in. But somehow, it’s easier, or more acceptable to pick on the poor. Hogwash!
    Cheating the system is wrong at whatever income level.

    I so appreciate all the other heartfelt, personal accounts from readers as well. There are lots of hard working, loving, great parents out there who have needed help from time to time. And there are those whose situations have made it difficult to properly care for their families. All deserve our compassion. It’s too bad our society is so focused on finger pointing these days. We’d do so much better to reach out a helping hand…

  10. Cindy says:

    You are right, Leanne. I have seen this too, you have to be dirt poor to get any assistance so you can’t get a little help to ensure you don’t get to that level. I don’t know what the solution is for this and I can see why people get frustrated. At least with the school lunch program, you can make $40,793 and still qualify for reduced fee lunches. This is a fair income level to help families on a sliding scale. I think that is what would be beneficial, help on a sliding scale. I know that people are making hard choices, especially right now. That is why I wrote the article on Akron Community Resources, so people that may never have needed help before can find help. Thank you for your comments.

  11. Cindy says:

    Qtpies, you are loving your neighbor by taking care of the people in your life. Good for you. It is frustrating and hard, especially while you are in the midst of trying to help people that can’t pull themselves up out of the system. When you consider the kids, that is all that matters. I agree that we need to care for the kids.

  12. Cindy says:

    Amy, thanks for your comments. It sounds like you had an incredible mom that worked hard for you and your brother. It doesn’t sound like she wasted her money on tattoos or anything else but taking care of you. (I have nothing against tattoos but referencing them as an non-essential, based on the FB comment.) Yes, none of us are without fault or sin, so who are we to judge anyone? I don’t think helping “the system” and making changes and helping people is judging, if a person is concerned about it, they should work to make it a better system. Thanks for your comments.

  13. Cindy says:

    Rose, I think you have the right approach in life to be kind to everyone. If we all did that, wouldn’t we have world peace? All we can do is what we can individually. I also agree that there are problems with the “system”. People that need help so that they don’t get below the poverty level usually cannot get any assistance. It would be helpful to have something in place to help people that are at risk. I don’t know what the solution is.

    I am sorry if I offended you or anyone else with a tattoo. It was not my intention. I have nothing against tattoos, at all. I was merely referencing the person who said, “If I had just one tattoo, I’d feel bad that I couldn’t feed my kids because tattoos are not free.” She was implying the people are using the money they should be using to feed their kids for tattoos and other non-essentials. My point was that not everyone is wasting their money on tattoos and other non-essentials that need some kind of assistance. I guess I should have worded that differently. I’m sorry. I wouldn’t be against getting a tattoo for myself, husband, or anyone. 🙂

  14. Cindy says:

    Angie, I’m sorry to hear about your pain in growing up. It sounds like you are healing and doing the best for your own family now, as an adult. I totally am with you on the middle class not being able to get the assistance that could help them in tight times.

    The guidelines for free and reduced lunches for schools can be found here. This also includes the Breakfast program and free milk program. These are the current guidelines as they have not changed since 2009. A family of 4 can earn $28,665 annually or less and get free school lunches. A family of 4 can earn $40,793 annually or less and get reduced fee school lunches.

    I never thought of just the convenience the school lunches provide. You are right, it ensures that every kids has a good start to their day.

    Angie, if you have any questions on blogging, feel free to email me directly. I am not an expert but I’ll tell you what I know. 🙂 cindy @ akronohiomoms .com Thank you for doing the Lord’s work!

  15. Rose Habart says:

    Wow. I didn’t see any of this. But like you, I think it is completely unfair to pass judgement on people you don’t even know. You should help people with confidence in your heart that the universe/God will take care of the rest. I am nice to every person I meet. Some people I meet may be serial killers for all I know. Does that mean that I should go around treating every person like they are?? As far as frustration over tax dollars, I get it. I do. It can be frustrating to never quite qualify for help, but always be helping (without any choice). But that’s part of the democracy that we live in. If you don’t like it, feel free to find a home elsewhere. Personally, when I see some of what’s going on in the rest of the world, I feel blessed to be here. In a place where I will be provided help if truly needed. And a place where myself and other citizens are willing to help, just a little.

    As far as this tattoo craziness. I think it’s hysterical. I mean, it’s just as judgemental to categorize everyone who has a tattoo into one group, as it is to categorize ‘the poor’. I am a twenty something. I have a college degree from a state university. I made dean’s list every semester. I work full time at an 8-5 office job. My husband also works full time as an hvac technician. We have two small children. We live in a middle class neighborhood and own our home. We use no assistance of any kind. I have two tattoos. One rather large one down my ribcage. You wouldn’t know it upon meeting me. But if you did, would you judge me? You’d be wrong. The fact is that a recent statistic displayed that almost 50% of 20 somethings have tattoos. This old fashioned view that it signifies anything other that artwork and a passionate form of expressionism is so silly 🙂 And I do mean silly. I’m not offended ladies. Just a little surprised at how judgemental some of those who are criticizing ‘judgement’ are being 😉

  16. Cindy says:

    I don’t have an answer either, Deborah. I like your points. If we can help others, let’s do it. You never know when you will need the help.

  17. Deborah R says:

    I don’t have an answer as to why there is such hatred and bitterness towards those among us who need a helping hand. I just wanted to make two points:

    1. People in this country used to take pride in helping their neighbors. All of us need to examine our own hearts and take action on what we find there.

    2. Your post was beautiful and moving. Thank you for standing up for those who might not be able to stand up for themselves.

  18. Angie Corey says:

    I was rescued from a neglectful family when I was a child. My step-dad would rather spend our money on drugs and alcohol than us. My mom, who was disabled due to degenerative joint disease & rheumatoid arthritis, was forced to get a job and work long hours to try to pay the rent. I remember her always being so tired and in pain. By 6 I was standing on a stool washing dishes while my 9 year old sister cooked dinner for my step dad who would then eat most of the food. My mom had to take her food and split it in half & then half it again so we could eat. I got free lunches in school. Truthfully, my parents made horrible decisioned in some ways but they are just people. They have downfalls and have pain and addictions that their lives keep them in. While anyone can say it’s easy to just walk away from a bad marriage, my mom had kids and couldn’t just walk out because there wasn’t much help for women like her.

    Now I am a mom of 2 kids and have learned so much about life. My husband is like my step-dad in many ways, though he would never hurt us. I struggle every day to make sure my son eats but it’s really hard because he doesn’t want to eat. It’s so backwards. I had to break hoarding food because of the effects of neglect and here he is, not wanting to eat.

    The fact is that many middle class families are struggling not with money, but with time. They can’t get their family fed before they have to leave for work. They don’t eat meals together frequently because they are all working and don’t have time. Those free breakfasts insure that child actually gets a good meal and that’s more important to me than anything. I don’t care if they make more money than me. We pay the same taxes on our income, we should all receive the same benefits.

    Thanks for this article. It means a lot to me. I actually have been researching these types of blogs because I’m trying to make extra income as a freelance writer and heard of these types of mommy blogs but had no idea how to go about starting one. You are an inspiration! & btw, My husband and I are pastors, so I know how it is not getting paid a whole lot for being expected to always be on call. Wouldn’t trade it for the world. 🙂

  19. Amy Campbell says:

    Fortunately, I did not see the exchange you referred to on the FB page. I can speak to this as a recipient as a child . I was raised by a single mother, who worked full time at a union job. My father did not pay child support, so my brother and I were lucky enough to receive free lunches, as much as any form of assistance embarrassed my very proud mother.
    My mother had no tattoos and worked very hard to support us. I commend you, Cindy, for moderating the conversation and shedding light on the ignorance of some people.
    Judge not, lest ye be judged.

  20. Qtpies7 says:

    I get that people are frustrated with some of the “poor” that seem to be professionally poor in order to take from the system. I get that. I have some of those people living in my house so I can PROTECT the kids.
    The kids are NOT at fault here. The kids should not go hungry because we are fed up with the adults who abuse the system and don’t even want to get a job. If we could kick the adults out on their rears and not hurt the kids, fine, but we can’t. The kids need to be cared for.

  21. Leanne says:

    I think a lot of people struggle but aren’t poor enough to get help and that’s why you hear so much anger. They are frustrated that their tax dollars/etc. go to helping people when they need help too and can’t get it. So, they lash out.

    I don’t know what the cut off levels are for school lunch programs/etc. but I do know this: The stated poverty income level (used as a guideline for many programs) is RIDICULOUSLY low. By the time you get to that level, you need so much more help than just a school lunch program. And that means that there are plenty of people who make more than the poverty level who are struggling and making hard choices between things like medicine and food… and those people are often very frustrated because they work hard and can’t get any help.

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