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Nelson Withdraws Motion to Discuss Free Summer Lunch Program

City Council member Judy Nelson says her comments may have been “insulting.”

The anticipated discussion over a free summer lunch program at the city’s was pulled from the agenda when Glendora City Council member Judy Nelson withdrew her motion for the discussion during Tuesday’s city council meeting.

Nelson said the city council meeting was not the appropriate forum to discuss the school district-sponsored free summer meal program, open to all children under the age of 18.

“I realize that the city is simply responding to a request by Glendora Unified to provide a location to operate a free summer lunch program,” Nelson said during Tuesday’s meeting.

“It is primarily a Glendora Unified School District matter and any further discussion from this point forward would be more appropriately held at the school district level,” Nelson said, citing her reasons to withdraw her motion.

During the June 26 City Council meeting, Nelson took aim at the free summer meal program, requesting that the city stop providing a location for the program.

Nelson said the program, sponsored by the Glendora Unified School District, was an example of government assuming the responsibilities of parents who Nelson said should ensure the healthy eating habits of their children.

Nelson said she did not believe it was the government’s role to provide food for its citizens.

"It's the role of parents to provide food for their children," said Nelson.

Nelson’s comments drew the opposition of Mayor Pro Tem Joe Santoro who said the federally-funded program provided children a positive place to go during the summer.

“I think for us to throw away this opportunity for us to feed our children who come to this community, who play in this community, is not a job that is at this level of government,” Santoro said at the June 26 meeting. “By doing this, I think we’re making a statement that I don’t think needs to made at our level of government.”

During the meeting, Nelson compared free government handouts to feeding wild animals at parks.

“The National Parks Service cautions us that when visit the parks, we should not feed the animals because they will grow dependent on the handouts and not know how to take care of themselves,” Nelson said, reading from a comment she said was sent to her by a concerned citizen.

Nelson later said at Tuesday’s meeting that her comments may have been unintentionally offensive.

“I realize that the analogy I read as part of comments in the last meeting was insulting to some,” said Nelson.

However, Nelson said her original request for the discussion was not to debate the issue of whether government should provide assistance for individuals who qualify as low-income, but to discuss big government spending and the loss of personal responsibility of citizens.

“The purpose of the motion was to raise some awareness of what is going on throughout the state, and throughout the nation, that during the summer children are receiving free lunches without qualifying for need, creating an expectation of our government to provide free meals regardless of need,” Nelson told Patch.

“I thought the council meeting was a good place to have an open discussion,” she said. “Yes, there are children who are in need of a place to. Yes, there are parents who need assistance in feeding their families. I’m not taking issue with that. But when government says, ‘We’ll take responsibilities for parents to feed their children even if they don’t qualify for the need,’ it concerns me. I think [the summer lunch program] is establishing a precedent that is sending out the wrong message.”

Stacy Johnson, director of food services for Glendora Unified, said under federal guidelines, the program can’t screen individual children they provide free meals to, although locations for the program were determined through the number of reduced price lunch applications the district receives.

Johnson said Glendora was chosen as a location because over 50 percent of the children in the area qualified for reduced price meals.

“We can’t screen each child that comes in for a meal to make sure they qualify because the way the government sees it, that’s discriminatory,” said Johnson. “But based on the number of applications we receive for reduced price lunches, there is definitely a need to provide this service.”

Since the free summer meal program began running in Glendora last year, Johnson has said she has seen more families needing financial assistance due to economic hardship.

“There are more families struggling in Glendora than people realize,” said Johnson.

Bob K. July 12, 2012 at 10:51 PM
AB- I apologize then. Unfortunately California is in a period of decline. Many of my economist friends feel we have reached the tipping point and are currently witnessing the demise of the entire American Empire. I hope that is not to be in my lifetime, but we only need to look towards Europe to see what will be heading our way. My degree is one of many years ago, but math is math. I wish I could offer you hope, but I see none on the horizon at this time. My main company saw some increased activity in the spring and we were encouraged that the turning point was on the horizon. Since then we have noticed a gradual slowing. This morning Warren Buffet warned on another economic slowdown. That concerns me a great deal since Warren has always been very bullish on America. We have managed to keep all of our employees the last 4 years through shared sacrifice. All employees work a maximum of 32 -36 hours. They all have company paid health care, but there have been no raises. We have not paid any corporate tax because we have not had any corporate profits. We are dead flat and just barely supporting our current workforce. It sounds as if you are trying to do all the right things. I have tons of zucchini as well of which even my neighbors don't appear to want to take off my hands, so I decline your offer of another one. Good Luck to you.
AB July 12, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Bob, Thank you. That was a very gracious, reply. I did have an interview this morning in Pasadena in the private school sector, and an additional one scheduled for Monday, so perhaps my reliance upon the reduced lunch program will be short-lived. I'm familiar with Mr. Buffet's previously accurate predictions and analysis and yes, this time it is bleak news. Let us hope on this occasion, he is wrong. I hope your business continues to improve as well. Reading from above posts, it sounds like you are very involved in Glendora community programs. I mention this because I'm thinking of taking my excess zuchinni over to the Shepherd's Pantry on Arrow. Maybe some tomatoes too. I have enough salsa and spaghetti sauce jarred up to last for 2 years. Well-wishes for your future.
Bob K. July 12, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Touche Bill C.! Nelson may have won because it is a conservative town and your opinion of her could be colored because she opposed a raise for your own pet project of GPD recently. The fact is she smoked everyone in the last election. I know because I supported someone else and she literally blindsided us by coming in first and well ahead of everyone else. Never saw it coming. She has always claimed to be a fiscal conservative and appears to stay true to what she believes in. I know for a fact that she declined all city benefits and I admire her for doing so. That can't be said for the majority of them. I agree it was a mistake to read the comments and yes she should have distanced herself from them. She has publically apologized for them and I give her credit for that. If nothing else it has generated lots of attention and discourse. You refer to me as spinning for her, but I am only commenting based on my reading of the issue in the SGV Tribune. I am neither friend nor foe. I don't know how being opposed to providing free government meals to children that are not in need makes one "uncharitable" though.
Bill C. July 13, 2012 at 12:56 AM
What pet project do i have at GPD? She opposed the raise which wasn't a raise considering what sworn gave up compared to non-sworn. That she even looked at it that way showed what little thinking she does. The city council isn't a dem/rep seat, you should know that from your history. That's what made Parisi getting the local Dem endorsement, last time she ran, so silly. Nelson seems no different to me and her stances at times seems out of place in a council setting.
Bill C. July 13, 2012 at 01:04 AM
I didn't mean she was "uncharitable" by my comment. Most charitable people I'm familiar with seem to know better than to put their foot in their mouth as she did. An apology is fine but in my experiences to get to the heart of how one really thinks is most easily observed when you see their first words or opinion on a matter.

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