Paul Ryan, It Takes More than Love to Fill a Lunch Bag

Shantha Ready Alonso
March 10, 2014

In Summer of 2012, NETWORK’s Nuns on the Bus hit the road to confront Paul Ryan for using Catholic Social Teaching to justify cuts to vital nutrition, health, and other social safety net programs. He still doesn’t get it. Call him at (202)225-3031.

At the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Rep. Ryan was talking about his belief that government nutrition assistance programs are ineffective. To make his point, he shared a story:

“The left is making a big mistake here. What they’re offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul. The American people want more than that. This reminds me of a story I heard from Eloise Anderson… She once met a young boy from a very poor family, and every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. 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. This is what the left does not understand.”  

NETWORK agrees that it would be wonderful for every child to go to school with a full lunch bag lovingly packed by a caregiver. Yet, Rep. Ryan has been a powerful voice in Congress for cutting programs that help parents fill their kids’ lunch bags. Feeling the squeeze of working full-time on poverty wages or being unable to find a job, many parents who love their children are unable to feed them enough. Many are also trimming their food budgets due to Congress’ cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and failure to renew Unemployment Insurance. Call on Paul Ryan to support policies that will ensure that kids’ lunch bags are full: a just minimum wage, a robust Earned Income Tax Credit, renewed Unemployment Insurance, and restoration of cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Call Paul Ryan at (202)225-3031. Let him know: It takes more than love to fill a lunch bag.

Here’s what you might say:

Hello, I’m __ (name) from (faith community/organization & city). I heard the story Rep. Ryan told at the CPAC conference last week about the little boy and how he believed a brown paper lunch bag would make him feel loved. I agree it would be wonderful for every child to have their lunch lovingly packed by a caregiver daily. That’s why I support policies that fill lunch bags: the Earned Income Tax Credit, an increase in the minimum wage, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and restoration of Unemployment Insurance. All those policies put money in parents’ pockets to be able to send their children to school with a nutritious lunch. I’m glad Rep. Ryan is on board with the EITC. It’s time he saw the light and supported the other three policies, too. 

Please share this message with to anyone who you know wishes to hold Paul Ryan accountable.  While you’re at it, you also might want to check out Sister Simone’s comments about Paul Ryan’s new report on poverty

Oh, and by the way, the Washington Post fact checked the story about the little boy and the brown bag, and its not even true. The Post ranked it with four Pinnochios. The story came from a book called The Invisible Thread.

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