December 20th, 2013
12:05 PM ET
12 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. Name carl

    Shame on jack kingston sounds like a Republican.

    December 20, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  2. Dennis Freeman

    What a guy! Merry Christmas Congressman...

    December 20, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    ""This is not targeted to any one group."

    Riiiiiight...."It's just a coincidence that what I'm suggesting would have a disparate impact on particular groups. Total accident, I swear..."

    December 20, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Let me guess, another Republican feeding on the American teat who doesn't want to share it with anyone else. Merry Christmas!

    December 20, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  5. Kevin Wade

    Such a blatant lie. The original comment was about students who took part in the school lunch program for low income families. Now he says it wasn't directed towards the poor students? He is a liar. Plain and simple. He must really think we are all idiots.

    December 20, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    ""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."'

    Typical RWNJ/Teatroll "I'm the REAL victim here" nonsense. Since when was someone telling you that what you suggested is awful and that they don't like it not part of having a discussion? What he really means is, "I'm entitled to say whatever I want without being criticized for it or having people respond to it by pointing out its flaws."

    December 20, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  7. jinx9to88

    Will his child pick up a broom or mop? Unless his child does he shouldn't expect some other child to do it. Thats whats wrong with these people they think they are above everyone else.

    December 20, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    On a similar note, Rep. Kingston demanded that the offspring of the wealthy do 100 hours of community service a month to offset the tax loopholes that allow their parents to write off as "business" expenses such things as "therapy horses. "

    December 20, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  9. Malory Archer

    After reading this I've got the song "Hard Knock Life" from Annie stuck in my head! Yeah, let's tell every other student in the school which kids are poor! They'd NEVER use that information as a cudgel against those kids. What an effed up individual this guy kingston is, and his comments are indefensible.

    December 20, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain

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

    Right, because people living above the poverty line qualify for free or reduced meals at school – NOT!

    "Jack" is the perfect name for this ignoramus – because that's about all he knows about anything.

    December 20, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    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.
    -------------------------------
    It's the Democrats fault because they followed him around, documenting his speeches? You know what. If that is a glimpse into how some of these hardline conservatives think, then I don't ever want to understand them, because I would be as crazy as the explanation.

    December 20, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  12. love344

    these are the people who make decisions that affect our lives................... this is how he thinks of people he deems "poor"... note to voters in his district.............>>>>>>>>>>>pay attention>>>>>> it is not a slip of the tongue.

    December 20, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  13. sonny chapman

    "Do unto others as you would have done unto you". Does Kingston honestly believe that if it were his kids or Grandkids or Gated Community Neighbors kids doing the sweeping that that would be ok / The Truth is that the aforementioned brats would raise their judgmental noses in disgust at the poor kids;an attitude they learned from their "Christian" parents.

    December 20, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  14. Al-NY,NY

    OK Jack....let's have your kids pick up the broom and sweep..........no? Why not?

    December 20, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain

    I'm sure this Congressman being caught in a blatant lie will result in calls from Rant Paul, other tea bags and all their supporters to call for Kingston's immediate resignation – right?

    *crickets*

    December 20, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain

    This guy is a jerk – most of these kids come from WORKING POOR families. Their parents work low-paying jobs often with no benefits. They are plenty exposed to the work ethic – as well as to the small-minded, hateful, ignorant comments of Rep. Kingston.

    December 20, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    "it is not a slip of the tongue."

    Yep, it's a dog whistle to all the other hateful jerks that poor kids are the problem, not the society that rewards companies for paying such low wages that the employees must use the ever-shrinking social safety net to make ends meet.

    December 20, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  18. John in Brooklyn

    My first inclination is to be critical of Mr. Kingston.

    However, I realize that the greater criticism belongs to the so-called "good people" of Georgia's 1st Congressional District, and it's largest city Savannah.

    I think we should remember Mr. Kingston's remarks the next time a hurricane hits Savannah. Using Mr. Kingston's philosophy, perhaps the rest of us Americans should require the citizens of Savannah to come clean our cities in exchange for the FEMA relief money they receive.

    December 20, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    If Kingston is looking for someone to learn a good work ethic, he should turn his attention to Wal-mart:

    Walmart has become the number 1 driver behind the growing use of food stamps in the United States with "as many as 80%of workers in Wal-Mart stores using food stamps."

    Wal-Mart's poverty wages force employees to rely on $2.66 billion in government help every year (about $420,000 per store). In state after state, Wal-Mart employees are the top recipients of Medicaid. As many as 80% of workers in Wal-Mart stores use food stamps.

    So, Kingston, where's your call to get Wal-mart to clean up its act and learn responsibility?

    December 20, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

    "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."'

    We ARE having a discussion: you said something, and now people are responding. Grow a pair and learn to deal with it – OR RESIGN.

    December 20, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  21. current state of the union

    Unadulterated comment, shows anyone interested how a Republican thinks

    December 20, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  22. ThinkAgain

    Is Rep. Kingston aware that the children of active-duty military personnel ALSO qualify for reduced meals at public schools? It is one way public schools support military families.

    If Kingston is aware of this, he apparently doesn't think that military dependents understand what a "good" work ethic is.

    If Kingston is NOT aware of this (and I'm guessing this is the case), then this is yet more proof that this guy is an idiot.

    Citizens of Georgia, take note and vote accordingly.

    December 20, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  23. Get used to IT tea potty! 3 more yrs to spew ur hate @Obama

    Oh, this is Newt Gingrinch idea...this is the Republican GOP Tea PotT Platform!!!!

    December 20, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  24. smith

    Kids, thats to harsh and would cause self-esteem issues. However, adults on welfare or unemployment should have to do some community service. Sure would motivate someone if they had to pick up highway trash for a couple hours. They do it in Denmark.

    December 20, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    "Hit the road, Jack.
    And dontcha come back,
    no mo', no mo', no mo', no more...."
    ----------------------
    If he wants to go that route, then why the kids? Why not give the parents a job? Somehow, I don't think putting the kids to work will have the end result that he thinks it would. Peer pressure among kids can be vicious. I suspect that it will more likely come across as punishment, more than anything else.

    Besides, why is he singling out the kids, anyway? Let's pick on other groups that recieve government subsidies, too. There's just so many to choose from. One has to wonder why he singled out poor kids. Let's put oil company executives to work for the subsidies that they receive.

    [ FOR THE SLOW OF WIT: I'm being sarcastic and absurd to make a point. That part you have to figure out for yourself.]

    December 20, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
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