Rep. Paul Ryan's 'Child Doesn't Want Free School Lunch' Story is Untrue

| by Michael Allen

During his speech yesterday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told the audience a story about a child who did not want a free school lunch.

Wisconsin Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson "once met a young boy from a very poor family, and every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program," Ryan claimed. "He told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown paper bag just like the other kids. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him. This is what the left does not understand."

The conservative National Review called Ryan's speech a "moving story that explains the difference between hard work and dependency."

However, Ryan's story is not true, noted The Washington Post, which did some extensive fact checking.

According to the Post, Anderson told the story during a congressional hearing in 2013 and claimed she had spoken to the boy herself.

However, the Post notes the story is very close to parts of a book entitled "An Invisible Thread."

The book describes an executive who offered a homeless boy money to eat for the week or a lunch made for him each day in a brown paper bag.

The homeless boy chose lunch in brown paper bag, which, he said, meant "somebody cares."

A spokesman for Anderson told The Washington Post that she "misspoke" and was actually speaking of a TV interview she had seen with Maurice Mazcyk, the boy from "An Invisible Thread."

The Washington Post notes that school lunches are not mentioned in "An Invisible Thread."

"I have just learned that Secretary Anderson misspoke, and that the story she told was improperly sourced," Ryan wrote yesterday on his Facebook page. "I regret failing to verify the original source of the story, but I appreciate her taking the time to share her insights.

"I want people to think about what they can do to make the world a kinder world," Laurie Schroff, author of "An Invisible Thread," told The Huffington Post. "I don't care about Republicans and Democrats. But we are talking about children that need to be fed. Cutting school lunch programs doesn't accomplish that."

Ryan has advocated cutting school lunch programs, reported The Huffington Post.

Sources: The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, National Review, Facebook