Daily Bread for 8.31.21: Waukesha Schools Reverse Course on Meals Program

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 80. Sunrise is 6:19 AM and sunset 7:29 PM, for 13h 10m 04s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 38.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1939, Nazi Germany mounts a false flag attack on the Gleiwitz radio station, creating an excuse to attack Poland the following day, thus starting World War II in Europe.

Rory Linnane reports Waukesha school board reverses decision to cut universal free meals

Waukesha school board members reversed their controversial decision to leave a federal free meals program with a split vote Monday, following national uproar andlocal protests.

In an incendiary meeting with two lively overflow rooms, debate ranged from the finer points of feeding students to ideological arguments linking free meals to mask mandates and critical race theory.

Board members voted 5-4 to rescind their previous decision, and opt to participate this school year in the federally funded program that has already been providing free breakfast and lunch to all students in response to the pandemic.

The district had been the only eligible district in the state to opt out of the program, according to the state Department of Public Instruction.

Superintendent James Sebert asked board members to reconsider their previous decision, noting the program would help families “experiencing situational poverty due to the pandemic” who might not qualify for free meals under the district’s traditional program.


Some said if the board reversed course, it would be giving in to a “hateful mob” and giving over power to the federal government.

“It’s time for parents and community members to start paying attention to the forces at work here,” board member Kelly Piacsek said. “When the federal government is responsible for feeding all students at all times regardless of need, they have ultimate authority and we don’t need local school boards anymore.”

Piacsek, who was interrupted by applause as she spoke, said it wasn’t “about food anymore,” but about national influences on local school boards. She likened the debate to those about structural racism and COVID precautions.

(See generally Krista Ruffini, Schoolwide free-meal programs fuel better classroom outcomes for students. The program Waukesha initially rejected, but has now adopted, has lower barriers of entry for hungry students. See Daily Bread for 8.26.21: Waukesha School District Fails Even Before the Day Begins.)

Slippery slope arguments are typically unpersuasive. Piacsek’s is notable, however, as a conservative populist concern with imagined consequences that have nothing to do with providing the most efficient means for offering meals. She’s concerned about what could come next, and for her, what could come next is a list of curricular or cultural changes to which she’s opposed.

Picasek didn’t complain about “human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria,” but perhaps the Waukesha School Board meeting last long enough.

Sometimes a discussion about a meal program is — and should be —simply a discussion of a meal program.

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[…] (Waukesha also previously rejected, but later resumed, participation in a federal school breakfast program (rejected originally on the theory that feeding hungry children before school might lead to a kind of ‘slow addiction’ to the program). See Waukesha School District Fails Even Before the Day Begins and Waukesha Schools Reverse Course on Meals Program.) […]