Today, Claire McCaskill was joined by St. Louis area teachers at a press conference to highlight the importance of protecting the federal school lunch program, as well as other federal investments in education, from extreme politicians like Todd Akin who want them eliminated. Nearly 50 percent of Missouri’s students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school.
“I’m grateful today to be joined by some of the folks responsible for fostering Missouri’s next generation of leaders,” said McCaskill. “With just six days until voters head to the polls, it’s important that Missouri families know that Todd Akin is far too extreme on the issue of school lunches, which nearly 50 percent of Missouri’s students rely upon. While Congressman Akin wants to turn out the lights on key investments in our children, I know that hungry kids don’t learn, and I’ll fight to ensure Missouri families have access to school lunches, student loans and Pell Grants, all of which allow Missouri to remain competitive in the global marketplace.”
In the St. Louis City School District, over 80 percent of students rely on school meal programs to get through the day. In the Bayless School District, where Claire spoke today, nearly 60 percent of students qualify. And statewide, nearly 50 percent of Missouri’s students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school.
Despite those figures, Akin voted against school meal programs in Congress every time he has had the opportunity to do so.
In 2004, Akin was one of only five members of Congress to vote against the Republican bill to reauthorize school meal programs. In 2010, the federal school lunch program was reauthorized with unanimous support from all 100 Senators. Had Akin been in the Senate at that time, he’d have been the only Senator to oppose the bill.
The National School Lunches Program is a crucial tool the government utilizes to combat poverty and hunger in Missouri and throughout the country. Without the support of the federal government states would not be able to sustain the program leaving many more of Missouri's children hungry.
Akin's stance against federal school lunch programs is too extreme, even among his House Republican colleagues. Missouri’s Rep. Vicki Hartzler, a former teacher and Tea Party Republican, said these programs are critical to helping students get through the day. As reported by the Columbia Daily Tribune:
Every other Republican candidate in attendance at the fair today said they support school nutrition programs.
"I don't think so," U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, said when asked whether the program should be abolished. "I am a former teacher, and if a family is truly needy, it is appropriate for taxpayers."
2010: Akin Was One of Only 13 Members to Vote Against a Resolution Expressing Support for the National School Lunch Program. In March 2010, Akin voted against House Resolution 362, a resolution expressing the support of the House of Representatives for the goals and ideals of the National School Lunch Program. [Vote 89, 3/4/10]
2010: Akin Voted Against Reauthorizing the National School Lunch Program. In December 2010, Akin voted against the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, legislation to reauthorize child nutrition programs through fiscal 2015, including the National School Lunch Program. [Vote 603, 12/2/10]
2004: Akin Was One of Only 5 Members to Vote Against Reauthorizing the National School Lunch Program. In March 2004, Akin voted against a bill that would reauthorize such sums as necessary through fiscal year 2008 for a number of child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs, Child and Adult Care Food Program and After-School Snack Program. [Vote 82, 3/24/04]
646,000 Students Per Day Received Free or Reduced-Price Meals in Missouri in 2011. According to the USDA, 646,000 children per school day received free or reduced price meals in Missouri in FY 2011. [USDA, FNS Program Data]