Schoolkids eating lunchElementary school children in southeast Washington, D.C., eat their lunch. Photo: Eugene Menbane/Bread for the WorldAlong with a story today about D.C. schools beginning a program to feed dinner to some 10,000 needy children at school, the Washington Post polled readers about whether they supported the move. Nearly half — 46 percent — said it’s a bad idea. They wanted to know: Why should schools spend money — some $5.7 million in this case — to feed hungry children who should be eating at home?

If you’re wondering whether racist stereotyping is alive and well in the nation’s capital, just peruse some of the comments to this story:

“They might as well feed them dinner. And while they are at it, clothe them also,” ranted one reader. “The year will be 2050 and blacks will still be complaining about being held down and not being able to handle life’s requirements without ongoing, permanent government welfare. It’s the black circle of life.”

“I think a better balanced article should have included how many of the kids have cell phones and those $100+ sneakers,” snarled another. “Having grown up on peanut butter sandwiches, I make choices as to what to spend my money on. If a person cannot afford to feed their child then maybe that person should not have become a parent.”

Sentiments like these explain perfectly why the U.S. Senate, in approving a re-authorization of the Child Nutrition Act that funds school meals, could only find six additional pennies to help support the perpetually underfunded school lunch. School food advocates — myself included — who would love nothing better than to see reheated chicken nuggets and tater tots replaced with fresh food cooked from scratch, need to wise up to the fact that most Americans just don’t care. They see no problem with our junk-food culture, and do not buy into the idea that children — least of all poor black children — should be eating better than anyone else.

In short, there is no political mandate for spending more money on school food. Maybe it’s time for advocates of better school meals to take stock and adjust their message accordingly.