Should States Pick Up Tab For Free School Lunches?

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill returned to the campaign trail Wednesday afternoon after spending much of the last week at her mother's bedside.  84-year old Betty Anne McCaskill died Monday of natural causes.

Sen. McCaskill focused her public appearances on social issues:  free and reduced school lunches,  Medicare and Social Security and veterans issues.  GOP challenger Todd Akin argues the school lunch program belongs at the state level because the federal budget is running such a large deficit.

"This is a program that should not be a place that candidates for the United States Senate differ but we do and that should remind Missourians how extreme Todd Akin is," McCaskill told reporters outside a south county elementary school.

Congressman Akin spoke about the free and reduced cost school lunch program during a debate between the two candidates on October 18.  "We are a trillion and a half over in spending in federal government a massive amount.  Maybe we need to slim federal government down.  So,  I suggested maybe the school lunch program could be shifted to states."

McCaskill said that would be inefficient.  "The federal government can buy in volume at much lower prices than you could on a state by state basis," she pointed out adding it was "unrealistic" to expect Missouri to find the funds for a lunch program when it is already cutting "everything to the bone."

Congressman Akin campaigned in Kansas City Tuesday and Wednesday with former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich.  Gingrich said a vote to send Akin to the U.S. Senate would also send a strong message to national Republican leaders who backed away from Akin after his "legitimate rape" comment.

Betsey.Bruce@tvstl.com
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