Ga. Congressman suggests free lunch kids should sweep floors - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Ga. Congressman suggests free lunch kids should sweep floors

Posted: Updated:
Rep. Jack Kingston Rep. Jack Kingston
SAVANNAH, -

Representative Jack Kingston, a Republican representing Georgia's 1st District, spent some time on Saturday talking to a small group of Republicans.

He later told WSAV in Savannah, Ga., that he was "brainstorming about solutions to problems," which at one point turned to a discussion about the federal subsidized lunch program. A videotape now on YouTube shows Kingston talking about the fact that there are error rates of up to 20 percent in the breakfast and lunch program.

Then Kingston says this on the tape ""Why don't you have the kids pay a dime or a nickel to instill in them there's no such thing as a free lunch? Or maybe have them sweep the floors of the cafeteria?"

Video of Congressman Kingston's comments

The remarks, interpreted by some critics as indicating that poor children need to work for their food and be humiliated at school in the process, found Kingston explaining himself this week. But he says he was not talking about new policy or legislation, but rather how to restore the work ethic in America.

"To me, it's sad that in today's hysterical environment you can't even have a discussion without everybody jumping up and down. But I did not have any intention of making small children earn their meals for poverty they did not put on themselves," Kingston told WSAV by phone from Atlanta.

"As you know, I've represented the area for a long time, I'm not a harsh guy at all, I was just brainstorming out loud about what we do about the work ethic," he told me.

Kingston seemed surprised and somewhat stunned that his remarks had caused issues, saying we live in a "gotcha" culture which makes it hard for politicians to ever speak off the cuff about anything. That and cellphone video he says makes it hard to just try to throw out options during a discussion.

"Unfortunately, I understand now that I'm a Senate candidate and people perceive both on the Republican and Democratic side that I'm the competition so the tendency to jump on anything I say is going to happen," Kingston said. 'I regret that but I don't regret bringing up the value of work to the country."

While his remarks centered on children who qualify for free or subsidized meals, he told us he was not trying to imply that those childrens' parents don't work. "No indictment on anybody, not bringing their parents into this discussion at all," he said. "it's just a matter of making sure the work ethic is passed on. Are there things that kids could be doing at school to learn that lesson? Maybe, maybe not," he said.

In terms of his own constituents, in the Chatham County school district, 65 percent of the 37,000 students (or about 24,000 youngsters) qualify for free or reduced lunch. In discussing passing on the work ethic, Kingston  again said he was not implying that most parents of those low income children are not working or that being from a low income family is something that should single out a child.

"I would never do that, I just think there's dignity to work," he said. "And I think that children who have no control over their own economic situation should not be singled out but I do think for all kids everywhere there a great lesson to be learned about work."

Critics say if the above is what Kingston meant, he probably should have just said that. They also said Kingston seems to be doing less explaining and more backpedaling.

  • PoliticsMore>>

  • GOP presidential prospects tout faith in the national anthem

    GOP presidential prospects tout faith in the national anthem

    Sunday, September 14 2014 7:40 PM EDT2014-09-14 23:40:08 GMT
    File PhotoFile Photo
    Two possible Republican presidential candidates are touting the nation's religious heritage as part of a webcast marking the 200th anniversary of the national anthem.
    Two possible Republican presidential candidates are touting the nation's religious heritage as part of a webcast marking the 200th anniversary of the national anthem.
  • Groups aiming to help NC legislative Democrats

    Groups aiming to help NC legislative Democrats

    Sunday, September 14 2014 3:52 PM EDT2014-09-14 19:52:20 GMT
    File PhotoFile Photo
    Groups in the shadow of traditional campaigns are poised to once again attempt to influence N.C. General Assembly races through ads and mailers bought with millions of dollars largely from companies and politically-minded organizations.
    Groups in the shadow of traditional campaigns are poised to once again attempt to influence N.C. General Assembly races through ads and mailers bought with millions of dollars largely from companies and politically-minded organizations.
  • NC courts sort voucher law, students stay in class

    NC courts sort voucher law, students stay in class

    Saturday, September 13 2014 10:12 AM EDT2014-09-13 14:12:58 GMT
    A North Carolina appeals court could rule as early as this week whether nearly $11 million in taxpayer money should pay tuition for hundreds of low-income children to enroll in private schools.
    A North Carolina appeals court could rule as early as this week whether nearly $11 million in taxpayer money should pay tuition for hundreds of low-income children to enroll in private schools.
  • Gamers use police hoax to lash out at opponents

    Gamers use police hoax to lash out at opponents

    Gamers use police hoax to lash out at opponents

    Monday, September 15 2014 12:20 AM EDT2014-09-15 04:20:26 GMT
    DENVER (AP) - Authorities are increasingly concerned about a hoax in which video game players lash out at online opponents by making fake 911 calls that send SWAT teams to their homes. The practice, known as "swatting," originally targeted celebrities. Experts say it's now becoming more popular with gamers seeking retaliation. It offers anonymity and a way to watch the hoax unfold live over game-streaming systems. In Littleton, Colorado, a SWAT team swarmed the office of a video game company ...
    DENVER (AP) - Authorities are increasingly concerned about a hoax in which video game players lash out at online opponents by making fake 911 calls that send SWAT teams to their homes. The practice, known as "swatting," originally targeted celebrities. Experts say it's now becoming more popular with gamers seeking retaliation. It offers anonymity and a way to watch the hoax unfold live over game-streaming systems. In Littleton, Colorado, a SWAT team swarmed the office of a video game company ...
  • Miss New York chosen as Miss America 2015

    Miss New York chosen as Miss America 2015

    Miss New York chosen as Miss America 2015

    Sunday, September 14 2014 11:48 PM EDT2014-09-15 03:48:41 GMT
    Miss New York Kira Kazantsev was named the new Miss America Sunday night, marking the third year in a row that a contestant from her state has walked away with the crown in the nationally televised pageant. Kazantsev received the crown at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall from outgoing Miss America — and Miss New York — Nina Davuluri. For her talent performance, Kazantsev sang Pharrell Williams' "Happy" while sitting cross-legged on the stage and banging a red plastic cup on the floor. She named...
    Miss New York Kira Kazantsev was named the new Miss America Sunday night, marking the third year in a row that a contestant from her state has walked away with the crown in the nationally televised pageant. Kazantsev received the crown at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall from outgoing Miss America — and Miss New York — Nina Davuluri. For her talent performance, Kazantsev sang Pharrell Williams' "Happy" while sitting cross-legged on the stage and banging a red plastic cup on the floor. She named...
  • Over 1,000 people attend viewing for murdered deputy

    Over 1,000 people attend viewing for murdered deputy

    Sunday, September 14 2014 11:16 PM EDT2014-09-15 03:16:50 GMT
    The emotional farewell for Deputy Joseph Matuskovic began Sunday evening as hundreds of people from all over the Low Country came to pay their respects at his viewing."That badge was viciously murdered by a coward," said Deputy Sheriff Chris Wells.On Sunday night over a thousand people from all over the country made their way to West Ashley to pay their respects to a deputy who many say was one of the best."He was a trainer, he was an FTO, a driving instructor...just an overall good person, y...
    The emotional farewell for Deputy Joseph Matuskovic began Sunday evening as hundreds of people from all over the Low Country came to pay their respects at his viewing."That badge was viciously murdered by a coward," said Deputy Sheriff Chris Wells.On Sunday night over a thousand people from all over the country made their way to West Ashley to pay their respects to a deputy who many say was one of the best."He was a trainer, he was an FTO, a driving instructor...just an overall good person, y...
Powered by WorldNow

210 W. Coleman Blvd.
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

Telephone: 843.216.4875
Fax: 843.881.3410
Email: news@wcbd.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.