USA Today has a long article about the idea of giving a "free" breakfast to all children in school. "In Pueblo, school officials take a counterintuitive approach: They offer free breakfast to all children regardless of income, so no one is embarrassed to be eating it. In most schools here, breakfast is served right in the classrooms," the newspaper reports. "Feeding free breakfast to students who can afford to pay avoids the stigma for students who can't but don't want everyone to know. Serving breakfast in class means kids don't have to get there early to be fed, Kidd and other school nutrition directors say. Bus schedules, parents' work schedules, and, for high school students, the desire to sleep as late as possible make getting to school early for breakfast difficult."
The breakfast includes "individual packages of Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms cereal."
This is a case study in how government expands. First there were free school lunch programs for poor kids. Then that got expanded to breakfast, and further expanded to summertime, when school isn't in session. Now it's being expanded from poor kids to everyone, so that instead of spending school time learning to read and write and do math, students are chowing down on Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms. And the responsibility for feeding children devolves away from parents onto the state, in partnership with the lobbyists for the manufacturers of Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms.
It's funny how the same people who argue against tax cuts for the "wealthy" who don't "need" the money have no problem dispensing Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms to children who don't need them.
More broadly, in designing these programs, there is a tension between two tendencies. One is to provide a safety net for the poor. Another is to treat everyone equally, regardless of their income. It costs more to give everyone breakfast than to just give the poor children breakfast.