December 20th, 2013
12:05 PM ET
10 months ago

Georgia congressman defends school lunch comments

(CNN) - Rep. Jack Kingston defended his comments suggesting that low-income children who receive subsidized meals should clean the cafeteria in exchange for the free meals.

The Georgia Republican said he should have better clarified his comments and said they were not directed at a particular income group.

"This is not targeted to any one group. It would be very helpful for kids in any socio-economic group to do chores and learn the work ethic. Those kids aren't there because of any fault of their own and I never suggested that they were," he said Friday on CNN's "New Day."

Kingston, who is among a number of Republicans running for an open Senate seat next year, blamed the Democratic opposition, which he says followed him and recorded the video for fundraising purposes, and lamented the lack of "honest, open discussion" in American today.

In a video posted to the Huffington Post of Kingston at a public meeting, the congressman said that kids could pay 5 or 10 cents "...to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch," and then goes on to suggest work in return for the meal.

He continued: "Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria - and yes, I understand that 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 a thing as a free lunch."

"I never did say poor kids," Kingston told New Day host Chris Cuomo.

"This wasn't anything in a backroom. This wasn't a policy statement. This was a discussion, and it seems like you can't even have that in America anymore."


Filed under: Georgia
soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Typical Guns Over People tea potty wingnut. Shoot first,aim later. He's looking like Mitt the twit in 2012,not qualified for public office.

    December 20, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  2. brian

    WORK – the only 4 letter word that offends a liberal...

    December 20, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  3. Boomer in Mo

    Kids who were stupid enough to be born to poor parents should be allowed to starve. Old folks who out-live their money should be patriotic enough to just die already. The handicapped should be shot because they are too expensive. The inhumanity of some tea partiers is frightening.

    December 20, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  4. chill485

    You can have conversations, Congressman, but you have to live with the consequences of your words. And of course you were talking about poor kids. Who else gets a "free lunch"?

    December 20, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  5. Me

    Typical lazy liberal, afraid of the 4 letter word – WORK (Thank you Brian I stole your term), if you are going to be a childish name caller, I will too!!! Read me previous comments, we were required (most of the time) to do this in my elementary, but when you were in a large class and they didn't need that many students, pretty much EVERY student volunteered because it was a nice break away from studying for 7 hours where you could learn some responsibility, it gave us a sense of pride that we "worked" that day, made us feel more important (that is the best way I can describe it)! And all those calling it child labor, give me a break, get over yourself ya freakin drama queens, it is NOT child labor, it is more like simple chores for an hour or less!!

    December 20, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  6. Me

    LOL, sorry my previous post was to NATHAN WIMBERLY

    December 20, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  7. Rowing Stone

    In 1968 in Forrest City Ark. poor white kids had to work iin the cafeteria for 30 minutes for a free lunch. If you were black and poor your lunch was FREE. 100% true!

    December 20, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  8. kev

    Conservative republicans at work. Evil.

    December 20, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  9. Fightin4Amurrka

    @brian

    COMPASSION – one of those multisyllable, elitist words that offends a Tea Bag conservative (especially a religious one).

    Now let me get back to (hack, hack, cough, gag) WORK. :-)

    December 20, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  10. Jon

    Teapartiers are HISTORY in the next election. The big problem was that the turn-out in the last election was very small with only the nut jobs voting, because it was an "off year" election. Wow, how sad that turned out to be. Watch out next time tea-folks!

    December 20, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  11. rs

    Boomer in Mo

    Kids who were stupid enough to be born to poor parents should be allowed to starve. Old folks who out-live their money should be patriotic enough to just die already. The handicapped should be shot because they are too expensive. The inhumanity of some tea partiers is frightening.
    ____________________
    You have captured the ethos of the Right very well. I am sure the subtley is lost on them.

    December 20, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  12. rs

    Me

    Typical lazy liberal, afraid of the 4 letter word – WORK (Thank you Brian I stole your term), if you are going to be a childish name caller, I will too!!! Read me previous comments, we were required (most of the time) to do this in my elementary, but when you were in a large class and they didn't need that many students, pretty much EVERY student volunteered because it was a nice break away from studying for 7 hours where you could learn some responsibility, it gave us a sense of pride that we "worked" that day, made us feel more important (that is the best way I can describe it)! And all those calling it child labor, give me a break, get over yourself ya freakin drama queens, it is NOT child labor, it is more like simple chores for an hour or less!!
    ______________________
    The solution then, is make the work part of EVERY child's day, not just those who get the food assistance at lunch. Parents will however howl- especially those who are more well to do.

    December 20, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. Coffee

    Is he even familiar with the foods public schools provide? They are not worth the sweeping of the floor. Maybe clean before they eat would help more. I tied my child's intestinal illnesses with school lunches. We did a whole MRI where she swallowed barium to see if there were any problems internally. Turned out once she stopped eating school lunches the vomiting and pain, etc stopped never returned. It's been 4 years. Also people should take a peek into your local public middle school. It's depressing how much these schools don't get and how tight of a budget they are given. Hopefully one day the American culture will get it that education is what lowers crime, unemployment, disparity between rich and poor etc.

    December 20, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  14. TM

    Congressman, you and your party haven't done ANYTHING for the last two years! You "work" fewer days during the year than ANYONE ELSE in this country. How about you give back EVERY PENNY of your salary for the last two years until such time as you finally get around to getting off your own lazy backside. Those lunches get paid for the same way your salary does, from working taxpayers. Right now those kids deserve tax funded benefits far more than you do. At least they are going to school to learn something.

    December 20, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  15. okiejoe

    Geez, what a terrible, unfair thing to do. Imagine, they actually recorded what he said publicly and played it back! They ought to be ashamed.

    December 20, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  16. James

    If, at this stage in the game, he doesn't realize his comments and and will be recorded and reused...well, he's just kinda dumb. In the age of Twitter and YouTube, how could he NOT know this..?

    You lose a point for being, at best, kinda stupid.

    And who else but the "poor kids" get subsidized lunches? Lose another point for insulting my intelligence, Mr. Senator!

    December 20, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  17. Ceswho

    Isn't it funny how comments on negative Republican stories run on forever, while comments on negative Obama stories, like his miserable poll numbers or his newest "fix" for his disaster are shut off after a few comments? Hmmm.

    December 20, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    And who's responsibility is it when the kid gets injured performing their character buildinjg duties, Jack?

    December 20, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  19. Ron in SC

    Typical foot in mouth Tea Party/GOP politician. He thinks kids who need food should work but its ok for he and his comrades in Congress to sit on their asses and do nothing and get paid for it. What an A hole!

    December 20, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  20. rs

    The arrogance on display! To those of you prattling on that poor kids (or maybe just the poor in general) need to "work" for their meager benefits- remember you are the self-same people that wanted these children brought into the world (no abortion, no birth control), yet like some deranged pet owner, these kids seem to exist for you only to receive your punishment for the simple crime of being poor.

    December 20, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  21. Juergen

    Kingston is a fool. Being poor is bad enough. Having it rubbed in one's face is really sick.

    Here's who endorse him. Note the heavy T party / right wing influence:

    2013 The John Birch Society – Positions 89%
    2012 American Conservative Union – Ratings of Congress 88%
    2012 American Conservative Union – Lifetime Score 96%
    2012 National Journal – House Conservative (Foreign) 81%
    2012 National Journal – House Conservative (Composite Score) 85%
    2012 The Club for Growth – Positions 85%
    2012 The John Birch Society – Positions 74%
    2011-2012 Americans for Prosperity – Positions 77%
    2011-2012 Americans for Prosperity – Lifetime score 92%
    2011-2012 Campaign for Working Families – Positions 100%
    2011-2012 Concerned Women for America – Positions 96%
    2011-2012 Heritage Action for America – Positions 71%

    This info is off of the website 'votesmart dot org'.

    And this je(rk wants to run for the Senate. Keep T baggers like this wahoo out of government. He's been a pro pol for 20 years. We don't need any more of his kind of garbage. Anyone endorsed by the John Birch Society shouldn't be allowed to collect our tax money.

    On the other hand, let's have poor kids out picking up trash alongside the highway or sweeping streets. That should rally make Kingston and his supporters happy.

    December 20, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
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