TIME Congress

Paul Ryan Says Free School Lunches Give Kids ‘An Empty Soul’

Congressman Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, waves to the crowd after speaking during the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., March 6, 2014.
Congressman Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, waves to the crowd after speaking during the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., March 6, 2014. Lexey Swall—GRAIN for TIME

The Wisconsin Republican who recently took aim at the War on Poverty said during his CPAC speech that the Obama administration's free school lunch program is offering Americans "a full stomach — and an empty soul"

Paul Ryan says that free lunches provided to children by government programs give kids “a full stomach — and an empty soul.”

In a speech he made at Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the country’s largest gathering of conservative leaders and activists, Thursday, he shared this story he heard from Eloise Anderson, who serves in the cabinet for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker:

She once met a young boy from a poor family. And every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. But he told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch — one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids’. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him.

He went on to say that “the Left” doesn’t understand this desire for dignity, not just comfort.

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