Madison schools serve free dinners

Some public schools in Madison, Wisconsin are serving a free dinner to  students who participate in after-school programs.  That’s in addition to federally subsidized breakfast, lunch and post-school snacks, which are free only for children from low- and moderate-income families.

Just before 5 p.m. Wednesday, as Falk Elementary’s Safe Haven after-school program was winding down, students lined up to wash their hands for dinner.

The menu for the Madison School District’s new dinner program included turkey sandwiches, fruit cups, broccoli and chocolate milk.

It’s healthier food than the soda, sugary candy, snacks and fast food some students will eat before going to evening activities or homes with working parents who prepare later meals, after-school program director Kelly Zagrodnik said.

If the school has enough low-income students, then all students in after-school programs are eligible for a free meal, regardless of family income.  Federal funds — $2.86 per meal — cover the cost.

Mayor Paul Soglin wants free dinners at all schools to entice children to sign up for after-school program, which include “access to tutors, mentors, study skills sessions, supervised recreation and sports.”

Are there families who’d pass up after-school activities — and free child care — unless their kid could get a 5 pm dinner?

A student could eat breakfast at home, breakfast at school, lunch, after-school snack, early dinner at school and late dinner at home.  No wonder  childhood obesity is our greatest national security threat.

Or perhaps parents are supposed to stopped feeding their children at home, so the school can do it better.

Madison is a relatively affluent town, writes Ann Althouse.

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