Waukesha was the only school district in Wisconsin to opt out of Biden's free-lunch program.
This week it opted back in, as board members said they were unaware of the hunger in their district.
But it was a 5-4 vote, and some members likened free lunch to mask mandates.
The school district in Waukesha, Wisconsin, voted in June to opt out of President Joe Biden's free-lunch program, with one member arguing that children and families could become "spoiled" with free meals. Nearly two months later, after widespread criticism, the district opted back in and acknowledged it didn't know how many children go hungry.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on Monday that in a 5-4 vote, the Waukesha school board rescinded its decision and opted back into the pandemic free-lunch program, which gives meals to all K-12 students regardless of income.
Superintendent James Sebert had asked the members to reconsider. After weighing feedback, the board's president, Joseph Como, said he hadn't been aware of all the situations of hunger in the district.
"I appreciate your input very much," Como said at the meeting on Monday, according to the Journal Sentinel. "I eat every meal every day. I cannot relate to being hungry. I've been blessed."
Another member, Greg Deets, said he had voted to opt out of the program because he hadn't known the extent to which students in the district go unfed.
"I made the earlier votes without really looking at all the implications and I wasn't really informed and I apologize for that," Deets said. "The truth is that many of our students are hungry throughout the school day and we have the ability to do something about that."
But other members didn't feel the same way. At the meeting, the Journal Sentinel reported, Karin Rajnicek, who made headlines for saying free school meals could make students and families "spoiled," defended her comments and said she'd been speaking from her own experience of feeling spoiled by free meals for her children.
Other members described the board's changing course as giving in to intimidation.
"If it's food and free lunch today, it will be forced masking, forced whatever-we-want-to-do in schools because the mob will have the power to tell us what to do," Anthony Zenobia said, according to the Journal Sentinel.
Waukesha had been the only school district in Wisconsin to opt out of the pandemic free-lunch program, which extends through the spring of 2022, choosing to remain in the National School Lunch Program, which requires families to apply for free or reduced-price school meals.
"It's the student that's in the lunch line ... that stands there when there isn't money to pay the bill. It's the student that has to go back and sit at the table," Deets said on Monday. "I think we should do whatever we can so that students in our district don't have to experience those situations."
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