A comment to an earlier blog alerted me to a remarkable provision in the House GOP’s version of this year’s agriculture bill: they want to restrict a summer program intended to feed poor children who rely on school lunches during the rest of the year to rural children only.
As Politico reported,
And in a surprising twist, the bill language specifies that only rural areas are to benefit in the future from funding requested by the administration this year to continue a modest summer demonstration program to help children from low-income households — both urban and rural — during those months when school meals are not available.
Since 2010, the program has operated from an initial appropriation of $85 million, and the goal has been to test alternative approaches to distribute aid when schools are not in session. The White House asked for an additional $30 million to continue the effort, but the House bill provides $27 million for what’s described as an entirely new pilot program focused on rural areas only.
Democrats were surprised to see urban children were excluded. And the GOP had some trouble explaining the history itself. But a spokeswoman confirmed that the intent of the bill is a pilot project in “rural areas” only.
At Ten Miles Square, Chad Stanton has a pretty persuasive analysis of this offensive measure. After referencing Paul Ryan’s recent remarks about “inner-city men,” he writes
Let me be clear. Offering food aid to children in rural areas while denying that same aid to children in urban areas is a poorly disguised attempt to replicate the effects of Jim Crow policies. The impetus for the Civil Rights Movement wasn’t merely a desire to be able to sit in the same classroom as white people (although the continued reality of segregation is undeniable), but to demand rightful access to the resources that black tax dollars paid for. Republican attempts to limit aid to “rural kids only” is a thinly veiled challenge to the laws designed to end Jim Crow policies. Combined with recent efforts of voter suppression and the refusal to amend the Voting Rights Act, the Republican position amounts to open contempt for black Americans’ rights as citizens.