President Donald J. Trump’s first budget slashes funding to programs like Meals on Wheels and After School Programs that feed children in America’s public schools. After acknowledging that these programs are designed to feed kids that “can’t get a meal at home”, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney claimed that “there is no demonstrable evidence” programs that feed children “help kids do better in school”. Mick Mulvaney and his budget live in contradiction with the real world.
The finest example of increasing productivity by providing healthy lunches can be found in Silicon Valley where technology hubs have become famous for their comfortable cafeterias filled with delectable dishes like Ceviche, Quinoa Salads, Gourmet Pizzas, Espresso Bars (w/ Energy Drinks) and even Deserts. The costly extravagances reflect the well-established, and quantitatively verifiable link between feeding workers and increasing their productivity. The World Health Organization’s studies have proven a 20% increase in brain power and productivity as a result of a healthy lunch. Entrepreneur Magazine sighted a study showing a 150% return on productivity for companies that invested in providing high quality lunches. Harvard Business Review, a school which ironically counts Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as an alumni, published that “food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance, which is why a poor decision at lunch can derail an entire afternoon. Just about everything we eat is converted by our body into glucose, which provides the energy our brains need to stay alert. When we’re running low on glucose, we have a tough time staying focused and our attention drifts. This explains why it’s hard to concentrate on an empty stomach”. It seems reasonable to conclude that although these studies were conducted on adults, they apply to children who obviously don’t have a greater capacity to contend with hunger than their parents. Until now, no one has ever been craven enough to deny children food so that we can measure the decline in their performance. If feeding workers in Silicon Valley, where workers make substantial salaries makes sense, then feeding children who have no control over their economic situations is even more reasonable.
The budget put forth by President Trump and Director Mulvaney is cruel and short sighted. It induces a decline in performance and courts the academic failure of our children which creates ripples in the pool of workers from which our businesses draw.