In this March 20, 2010 file photo, Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., speaks to people demonstrating against the health care bill on the U.S. Capitol steps in Washington. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)
ATLANTA (AP) — U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston is defending comments he made suggesting that poor students who are part of the nation’s school lunch program should sweep cafeteria floors.
Kingston made the comments at a meeting of Jackson County Republicans on Saturday. He told the crowd that making children do janitorial work would help them learn that there’s “no such thing as a free lunch.” The Huffington Post was first to report the remarks.
The Savannah Republican is campaigning to become his party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate seat of Saxby Chambliss, who has announced his retirement.
Kingston spokesman Chris Crawford said in a statement to WXIA-TV that it’s sad that trying to have a “productive conversation” about instilling a strong work ethic in the next generation “so quickly devolves into the usual name calling partisan hysteria.”