On Saturday, Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston addressed the Jackson County Republican Party about the possibility of underprivileged children performing janitorial work in exchange for receiving school lunch.
"On the Agriculture Committee we have jurisdiction over the school lunch," Kingston said. "The school lunch program has a 16 percent error rate. The school lunch program is very expensive. Of course it looks good compared to the school breakfast program that has a 25 percent error rate…”
"But one of the things I've talked to the Secretary of Agriculture about: 'Why don't you, you know, have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch. Or maybe sweep the floor in the cafeteria.'”
Kingston was mentored by Newt Gingrich, a politician who voiced similar thoughts when he suggested in 2011 that poor students work as school janitors.
"And yes, I understand that would be an administrative problem and I understand that it would probably lose you money, but think what we would gain as a society in getting people -- getting the myth out of their head that there is such thing as a free lunch," Kingston said.
After a video of the congressman’s remarks was posted online, spokesman Chris Crawford responded to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution via email.
"It is sad that trying to have a productive conversation about instilling a strong work ethic in the next generation of Americans so quickly devolves into the usual name calling partisan hysteria. Having worked from a young age himself, Congressman Kingston understands the value of hard work and the important role it plays in shaping young people."