Survey: Majority of Shore Residents for Free School Lunches; Split on Federal Death Penalty

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By Linda Cicoira — Fifty-nine percent of Accomack and Northampton residents who participated in an email survey conducted this week by the Eastern Shore Post favor free lunches for all students at public schools in the two counties. 

In the same poll, 47% want the federal government to reinstate the death penalty, while 37% were opposed. Another 16% were undecided about capital punishment mostly because of their distrust of the justice system.

“It does my heart well to know that each county will be providing free lunch to students,” wrote Artima Thornton, of Accomac. “Oftentimes, this is the last meal that students will have that day. Providing this to the students is a great thing.” Thornton wasn’t sure about the death penalty. “I think the federal government would or could overuse this and give the death penalty to people that do not deserve it.”

“Yes, healthy lunch options should be provided free of charge,” wrote Ronald van Geijn, of Cape Charles. “You cannot learn on an empty stomach.” He was opposed to the death penalty, saying, “It is inhuman. We are better than that. Society should be focused on preventing violent crimes, providing mental health care and rehabilitation, and social integration of convicted criminals and juveniles rather than letting them turn into hardened criminals while they are incarcerated.”

Peter Jacobson, of Wachapreague, said, “Subsidized lunches are not free. They’re being paid for by taxpayers and all students should get them, if for no other reason than to remove the stigma attached. If a tax increase is necessary, so be it. Depriving our children of the best we can give them to save a few dollars is the height of selfishness.”

He said, “Capital punishment reduces us to the level of barbarians. It’s not a question of whether or not a criminal deserves it. It’s a question of whether or not we want to keep up with the rest of Western Civilization.” 

Sam Serio, of Melfa, was against free meals for students and was for the death penalty. “There is no free lunch in any aspect of life,” he wrote. “These government giveaways are methods that politicians use to virtue signal. In reality programs such as this are wasteful uses of the taxpayer’s money.” Serio said, “Executions should be shown on an internet channel to serve as a deterrent to such crimes as murder, violent rape, child abuse, and kidnapping.”

“How incredibly sad it is that there are people who can’t afford to take care of children, but have them anyway,” said Linda Mitchell, of Pungoteague. “But, as a society, we really can’t let children just starve. Perhaps we could cut back on all the tax breaks for large, wealthy corporations and wealthy individuals, and engaging in and paying for the endless warfare our country apparently loves to get involved in. Then, perhaps, these little things, like buying lunch for children, wouldn’t be so unpalatable…” Mitchell only wants capital punishment for murderers. “Before modern forensics, frequently mistakes were made in convicting innocent people. If we could be sure not to convict innocent people, then yes, horrible murderers deserve to be put to death for their crimes whether it’s on the state or federal level.”

Shirley Fauber, of Greenbackville, said providing free lunches for all students is a “good idea.” She also favored the death penalty. “Yes, it is Biblical,” she wrote. 

“They may not get much food at home,” said Nicki Tiffany, of Cape Charles. “So, at least they can have a good lunch.”  

“Such a controversial issue,” she wrote about the death penalty. “I understand an ‘eye for an eye’ mentality, but what if they have the wrong person? It has been known to happen.”

Kimberly Perry, of Greenbush, said the death penalty issue “is a hard one. A really hard one. I believe it should be used in the worst case. For example, an adult harming an innocent child, someone who has committed multiple murders, etc. On the other hand, I do not think that humans should have power over how long someone can live or when they will die.”

Michael Stephano, of Cashville, called free lunch for all a “wonderful idea. No child should be treated differently because they cannot afford a meal. Feed them all. They are the future.” He said the death penalty should be a “state legal decision. If someone killed a family member, I would not mind if they got a death sentence. Life sentences are just as brutal. Either way.”

Amy Eckard, of Temperanceville, said free lunch “is a good idea, provided they are nutritious, not junk food.” She is opposed to the death penalty. “Too many mistakes have been made in the court system.”

Colleen Patterson, of Exmore, wrote, “It would be nice if the students received free lunch if the counties can maintain it. … Don’t implement this program if there is no assurance that it will continue. If the death penalty is reinstated, I believe it should be for the worst, horrendous crimes. I would be in favor of it for that.”

Carrie Jacobson, of Wachapreague, liked the idea of free lunch. But she wondered what the children would do for food in the summer. She is opposed to the death penalty.

Kathi McCorkle, of Parksley, wrote about free lunch, “Help those in need. No more than that.” She was “torn” about the death penalty. “I think people should pay for very heinous crimes and think the process is so long that it rarely happens. But I also worry about that one innocent person.” 

John Boddie, of Onancock, said not all students need to receive a free lunch. “This should be means-tested, perhaps by providing free lunches to students whose families use food stamps. The federal government should not reinstate the death penalty. Having the penalty complicates our relationships with our allies, particularly in regards to extraditions. Further, it does nothing to affect death penalties at the state level.”

Beverly Lynch, of Painter, said free lunch “teaches children to expect to get things without paying. Poor families already get food and other assistance. The food assistance is very generous from what I’ve seen and children are much heavier than when I was growing up. Free education, free breakfast, and lunch is any of this appreciated?” she asked. “In cases where a person is found guilty of a horrendous crime without doubt,” she favors the death penalty.

Judy Brunk, of Jamesville, was opposed to free lunches for all students. “It would not be free, the taxpayers would pay. There are a lot of us with no school children” who collect Social Security and/or disability. “It’s hard enough to pay property taxes! I have no problem with kids who really need free lunches getting them, but those whose family can pay, should pay.” Brunk favors the death penalty “because some crimes are so heinous that the perpetrators don’t deserve to live a full life in prison at taxpayers’ expense. I do believe that the proof of guilt should be solid with no doubt whatsoever,” she wrote.

Amber Evans, of Machipongo, said free lunch for all students is “a great idea.” She also favored the death penalty. “I also think a life sentence should not be 25 years. Life is life.”

 “I feel reduced or free services should be reserved for those in need,” wrote former Onancock resident Jamie Mackie. He debated the death penalty. “My gut reaction is … there should be an option for the government to use the most severe punishment for reprehensible crimes. However, intellectually I don’t feel the death penalty deters many criminals or serves as a good model for how we deal with societies most inexcusable offenses.”

George Schoolfield, of Franktown, wrote, “I prefer free lunches based on need with reasonable proof … required. I am in favor of death penalty reinstatement. The deterrent factor may help in some cases—but clearly not in all of them. Given the current state of DNA and forensic testing, I feel that the likelihood of executing innocent prisoners is reduced quite a bit. I would also like to see some sort of reasonable cap placed on the appeals process. It seems to go on for decades in some cases.”