Fox's Free Lunch Double Standard

School Lunches

Not all elementary school children should get a free lunch.

That's how it appears on Fox News, anyway, which found sympathy for children whose school lunches were confiscated because parents had not added sufficient funds to their school accounts. The network wondered why the school could not give students the meals for free, a stark reversal from its attack on free lunches for low-income students as part of an “entitlement nation.”

Fox's The Real Story devoted a segment on January 30 to the plight of elementary school children in Salt Lake City who saw their school lunches confiscated and thrown away, due to outstanding balances on their school lunch accounts. Host Gretchen Carlson expressed disbelief that “this really happened,” wondering “what would the harm have been” in giving to the children the lunch for free “because they were going in the trash anyway.”

Fox's compassion for these children, presumably from homes with the means to typically purchase school lunches, stands in stark contrast to the network's treatment of school meals for low-income children.

Just last year, Fox entertained the notion that children of low-income families should be forced to work in order to earn their school meals, after a Republican lawmaker in West Virginia proposed such a requirement for a new law curbing child hunger. In October, Fox lumped free school lunch programs under its "Entitlement Nation" umbrella, hosting a conservative guest to claim that such programs actually harm low-income families by increasing childhood obesity and “depriving them of their ability and the privilege and joy of providing for their own children.”  

According to USDA data, 15.9 million children were food insecure in 2012, and the National Education Association reports that missing meals and experiencing hunger impair both children's development and achievement.