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Hit the snooze before the pot boils over

Our Viewpoint

No one doubts we’re living in one of the most politically divided times our nation has seen in decades; so surprises, the reasoning goes, should be few and far between.

When the rancor strikes close to home, however, it still stings.

As we do each summer, the Record last week published a story on the San Marcos CISD’s summer nutrition program that uses school buses to supply free lunch to students in and around town. If featured a photograph of a Hispanic girl with her lunch tray of steak fingers, fruit, bread and more. 

As we do with many stories, we posted a link to the story on the newspaper’s Facebook page. That’s where the trouble, and the trolling, began.

“If parents can’t feed their own kids, they should lose them,” read one post. “You like it...you buy their lunch,” said another, amid other references to the overburdened taxpayer. 

And then there was, “Where’s her parents?” 

In fact, her mother was right there, just not in the photo. 

It’s not as if any of this is new. Mike Boone, director of nutrition for the school district, said the summer nutrition program has been going on for at least 13 years. It’s not funded by local taxpayers either, he pointed out; instead the district qualifies for the extension of the National School Lunch Program because of the percentage of students from low-income families. If 60 percent of the students in a public school district come from low-income households, the program is actually required under federal law. Boone noted that in the SMCISD, between 70 and 74 percent of the students meet that marker.

Without the program, Boone said, “a lot of these kids wouldn’t eat at all.”

It should also be said that the most vile comments didn’t appear to come from local residents. One poster purported to live in Lockhart, another in Humble. And there was push-back. “This angered me so much,” is one example. “People are so dam (sic) stupid,” is another. Others were, frankly, inappropriate for a family newspaper, proving that the pot is close to boiling on both sides.

Against the background of tragic school shootings and other issues that continue to divide our nation, it’s important to remember that as we as a society invest in our young people, more than security is at stake — their future depends every bit as much on their physical wellbeing.

When comments and issues push our partisan buttons, let’s endeavor to reach for the snooze instead. Let’s not inflame an issue — making sure children are adequately fed — that shouldn’t be partisan in the least.

Let’s remember, too, that when the pot boils over, we all get scalded.