Students Rally at SC State House Over Spring Break to Advocate for Crucial Cause

Students Rally at SC State House Over Spring Break to Advocate for Crucial Cause

Most people might not think of the South Carolina State House as a place to go on spring break.

But a few students were there on Wednesday, during their week off, to talk to lawmakers about hunger, a problem they see every day that affects their peers.

In front of the State House on the first floor, people shouted, “School meals for all, make the state pay for it!”

As soon as the kids walked in on Wednesday, they got the attention of the senators and asked them to support extra funding and legislation for school meals.

It is thought that hundreds of thousands of kids in South Carolina go hungry every day.

Junior at Stratford High School in Goose Creek Jeremiah Morgan said, “I see a lot of it.” “Over the years, it has grown over time. That stuff wasn’t a problem when I was in kindergarten, but now it is bigger and worse.

Some of them carried signs that brought attention to bills in both the Senate and the House of Representatives that would make all South Carolina public schools offer free food to everyone. These bills are currently being considered by their respective committees.

That push has been led by Sen. Katrina Shealy, who is the main author of the bill in the Senate.

“I hope they get it.” I hope that my coworkers are reading the signs. “Free meals for schools” and “Feed the children” are chants that Shealy (R-Lexington) hopes his colleagues hear. He said this after meeting the students.

A Senate group is looking into the recent discovery of almost $2 billion in taxpayer money that has not been spent and whose owner is unknown.

People who spoke out at the State House on Wednesday say that a small amount of that money would be enough to feed all the kids in the state.

The head of the charity Wholespire, Meg Stanley, said, “Giving them these free school meals is a small investment to make sure that they can reach their academic potential.”

The Senate’s budget-writing group will meet next week to finish writing the spending plan for next year.

Wholespire works to make sure that everyone in South Carolina has access to healthy food and physical exercise. They want lawmakers to renew a temporary law, called a proviso, that encourages people to take part in a federal program called the Community Eligibility Provision.

It pays for all the kids in a school or district to eat breakfast and lunch if enough of them are eligible for free meals.

“Based on what we know, there are only about 13 districts that could be eligible to take part but aren’t.” “Those districts should be able to join without having to pay anything, unless they can show a good reason for doing so,” Stanley said. “Really, what we want is for the Senate Finance Committee to fund those schools and make up the difference if they have some money problems.”

South Carolina also turned down a government program that would have given families money to buy groceries over the summer if their kids get free meals during the school year. This was a continuation of a program that began during the pandemic.

One study found that more than 500,000 kids would have been eligible. However, the governor decided not to take part because he thought programs from the pandemic should end.

Shealy said that choice was wrong.

She said, “Nobody likes to say we’re taking federal money, but if we don’t take it, someone else will.” “Do you think their kids are more important than ours?” “I don’t believe it.”

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