Alaska Dispatch published a more elaborate response from Smith. In response to this e-mail question from a reporter, "So, you're saying children should go hungry if they were unlucky enough to be born to no-good parents? I assume this means you're in favor of encouraging rotten parents to get abortions so they don't have even more children to abuse?", Smith wrote the following:
"No, I'm not in favor of starving kids or causing parents to 'get abortions.' You should seriously spend a little time investigating this issue. I believe that the standards are low and that in many schools everyone is entitled to 'Free' meals regardless of their economic situation. Because this is 'Free' money -- there is little oversight. It's no wonder that America is in such a financial crisis. Imagine what this one national program costs us! Instead of just giving and giving...maybe we should encourage some method of review and control. Maybe parents should have to pay back -- by spending one evening cleaning at the school -- or some other task. Just a thought!"
Yet this was not sufficient to dissuade the other six school board members from approving the contract, which was outlined in ASD Memorandum #19. The contractor will provide free after-school boxed meals for so-called "at risk" kids at 12 different Title I schools at a cost of $526,915. The funding is supplied by taxpayers via the federal government; no Anchorage property tax dollars are used. School Board President Jeannie Mackie explained the affirmative vote, saying "If it means providing an after school snack to kids who are already at risk who don't have maybe the best environment to go home to after school and get a meal, then that's what we need to do if we have those funds available".
But what this also means is that some of these so-called "at-risk" kids will now be getting all three meals per day supplied by the school at taxpayer expense. Whatever happened to the good old days when schools were only expected to provide an education?
The real problem may not be so much the existence of the program, but its scope. The professed target are "economically disadvantaged" students. But there's a big difference between being merely "economically disadvantaged" vs. being poor or destitute. This theme was picked up by former school board candidate David Nees in a comment posted to KTUU:
David Nees · Anchorage, Alaska
I doubt growing up in 1940's anchorage like Don Smith had a lot it was hard scrabble back then. We have a 5% poverty level in Anchorage and a 42% free/reduced lunch participation rate. I think that is exactly the 38% of the kids he was talking about. We really only have 5% that need it, the rest have figured out where the free stuff is.
Nees' idea is that most of these kids should get a reduced-price meal rather than a free meal; free meals should be reserved only for the destitute. Should the social safety net merely ensure survival, or should it allow the poor to live a full-fledged middle class lifestyle? Should taxpayer funds be used to pay the Levi Johnsons of society to spew their seed into anything with two legs without requiring them to take responsibility for the outcome?