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  • Writer's pictureDavid M. Rubin


The war against the physical and mental health of South Carolina's public-school children continues unabated.

The latest attack came earlier in January when Governor Henry McMaster refused to join a new US Department of Agriculture program that provides food assistance to public school children from very low-income families during the summer months.

South Carolina already ranks a dismal 32nd in the nation in food sufficiency for children, according to the 2023 rankings from the United Health Foundation. Nevertheless, McMaster joined 15 other states, mostly in the South, that opted out of the program.

McMaster is unwilling to shoulder the mere $3 million in administrative costs it would take to feed the approximately 150,000 children in the state who are undernourished, and who don't have access to meals in the schools during the summer.

This is hardly a lavish program. The Department of Agriculture is providing only $40 a month to each eligible child for a maximum of 3 months. This is barely more than a dollar a day. What sort of lunch will that provide? Too lavish for McMaster, apparently. Further, to be eligible a child must be in a family whose income is less than $55,000 a year.

In shunning the program, McMaster said he wanted to "get back to doing normal business" and end what he sees as the unnecessary federal government subsidies of the Covid era, subsidies that helped the United States avoid a recession and kept the economy afloat, including in South Carolina.

Sadly, McMaster's version of "back to normal" in South Carolina means under-funding our public schools, declaring war on its teachers and librarians, encouraging children to leave the public schools entirely through "parental choice" programs, and now depriving needy public-school children of summer money for lunch.

McMaster must be auditioning to play Ebenezer Scrooge. Perhaps he, like Scrooge, will be redeemed in the end by three spirits. We can only hope.

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