Williamson GOP leader disputes school food program - WSMV Channel 4

Williamson GOP leader disputes school food program

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FRANKLIN, TN (WSMV) -

The chairman of a local Republican party is drawing criticism for some comments he made about providing breakfast to students in poverty.

He says it's not the government's role to feed people, but some say his comments are out of touch.

While it is a place known for its rich and famous, some say there are plenty of people living in Williamson County that are starving.

"When people think of Williamson County, they think of Alan Jackson, Miley Cyrus and Keith Urban," said Graceworks Executive Director, Tina Edwards.

But the folks at Graceworks know that there are thousands living in poverty in Williamson County.

In fact, they serve meals to 5,000 families a year, including weekend meal packs to school students on free and reduced lunches.

"There are people who are in extreme poverty that live in Williamson County. There people who have true needs in Williamson County," Edwards said.

And it was a comment made about those students that is raising eyebrows.

"It was really unbelievable that someone could be that cruel and insensitive," said Gary Moore, with the Williamson County Democratic Party.

Kevin Kookogey is chairman of the Williamson County Republican Party. In his message on the party website, he discusses the county schools' new breakfast initiative for students on free and reduced lunch.

"Williamson County, one of the wealthiest counties in the nation by any measure, is now operating under a perverse incentive to increase the number of students taking government hand-outs," he said.

"Somebody who would be against feeding hungry children is out of touch with our values in Williamson County," Moore said.

Kookogey did not respond to Channel 4's request for an interview.

And for those who help the needy in Williamson County every day, they hope this can shine a light on a problem living the shadows of its wealthy neighbors.

"I think it's appropriate that this has brought attention to the fact that there is a plight of the poor in Williamson County. That we don't live in a bubble," Edwards said.

While Kookogey didn't respond to our requests for comment, he told The Tennessean he does not believe it is the government's role to feed people.

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