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View Diary: Going Hungry in the 'Richest Country in the World' (9) (260 comments)

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  •  You Got Me Cryin' A Little (19+ / 0-)

    I thought I was out of tears but this wets my eyelids yet again.

    After the War on Poverty, I thought we could maintain the successes and chip away at the hunger that remained until nobody in this country went to bed hungry. Silly me.

    Here's an item that was in the Food Research and Action Council newsletter the other day. I can't believe adults would do this to children. Good thing they've been stopped.

    Controversial "Cheese Sandwich" Lunch Program May be Revised

    Albuquerque students whose parents owe lunch money for their children who bought meals at school on credit have been receiving cheese sandwiches instead of hot meals, a controversial move that may soon be changed. The Albuquerque board of education, which instituted the program in order to cover $140,000 in debt is considering changing their tactic. Program opponents say replacing a child's hot lunch with a cold cheese sandwich is demeaning and humiliating for the student, and some question the alternate meal's nutritional value.
    KOB.com, January 30, 2009.

    Joe Biden: Get up! Al Gore: Pray, and use your feet! Harriet Tubman: Keep going!

    by JG in MD on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 04:03:31 PM PST

    •  That is disgusting and horrifying (13+ / 0-)

      Humiliating children!  What is the matter with these people?  Have they no hearts?

      "Let reverence for the laws . . . become the political religion of the nation." ~ Abraham Lincoln

      by noweasels on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 04:11:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh for pete's sake...that just makes me livid. (11+ / 0-)

      what planet were these people born on?  Scary to think they are decision-makers in the schools.

      E. -6.38, S. -4.62 Move forward or fall back...your choice! Be well my animal babies.

      by JellyBearDemMom on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 04:16:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  At the Risk of Repeating Myself (12+ / 0-)

        Not letting anybody know which children are receiving free/reduced price meals is supposed to be a solid pillar of the school lunch program.

        There are ways to make it anonymous, and presumably every book on the school lunch program has described them since the mid-1970s.

        Dammit. Double dammit.

        Joe Biden: Get up! Al Gore: Pray, and use your feet! Harriet Tubman: Keep going!

        by JG in MD on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 04:23:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  School lunches (5+ / 0-)

        Recently we were about a week behind in paying our child's school lunch bill, not because of lack of money but because of an oversight. We received a letter from the principal stating that there have been many unpaid school lunch bills lately and that children with unpaid lunch bills will receive a limited choice of two different types of sandwiches, not the regular offerings.

        I wonder how many people simply aren't able to afford the lunches and are either too embarrassed or proud to apply for free or reduced price lunches or don't make enough to pay full price, even though they may not meet the "full or reduced price" criteria.

        •  Letter from principal (6+ / 0-)

          Here's the letter from the principal. The more I read the line ".... some individuals choose not to provide the lunch money necessary to pay for their child's lunch," the more it burns me up. Keep in mind that this letter appears to have been sent to all elementary school parents, with a separate notification sent to parents who owe money.

          ***********************
          Dear Parents,

          A serious problem that has developed at the elementary level is that of unpaid bills for school lunches. It is expected that on occasion some students will have to "charge" the cost of their lunch. This happens to all of us at one time or another.

          A problem has arisen where some individuals choose not to provide the lunch money necessary to pay for their child's lunch. Consequently, we have several students who have accumulated sizable lunch bills. To address these specific, individual situations, the school district has decided upon the following process:

          First step: Students who accumulate a lunch bill of $10 to $20 will not have a choice of lunch. Until their lunch bill is paid, they will be served a limited lunch consisting of a sandwich and drink. Students will continue to be charged full price for these lunches.

          Second step: Students who accumulate a lunch bill of $20 or more also will not have a choice of lunch. Until their lunch bill is paid, they will be served a limited lunch consisting of a sandwich and drink. Again, students will continue to be charged full price for these lunches. In addition, the issue will be submitted to the district magistrate. Subsequent court action will result in the parent having to pay the outstanding lunch bill as well as court costs in the amount of $42.00.

          ***************

          I find this all sort of amazing. No attempt to determine WHY this has become such a "serious problem," such as the state of the economy? And threatening to send the "offenders" on to the district magistrate?!

          Maybe I shouldn't be surprised. I live in a small, conservative town in Central PA.

          •  Oh heavens, I think the Principal needs someone (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MizC, no way lack of brain, cbyoung

            to clue her or him in, to economic conditions.  That should have been handled in a much more sensitive manner.

            E. -6.38, S. -4.62 Move forward or fall back...your choice! Be well my animal babies.

            by JellyBearDemMom on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 06:32:21 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  E-mail (4+ / 0-)

            I just finished writing an e-mail giving my thoughts on the letter about the unpaid school lunch bills. I sent it to the principal and copied the district food service director and the school superintendent.

            It probably won't do any good, but maybe I've planted a seed or two. I mean, are these people living with their heads in the sand? Do they really believe that some parents just willy-nilly "choose" not to pay their child's lunch bills? Maybe I'm naive, but I'm betting that if bills aren't paid, there are reasons for it. The fact that it's become a "serious problem" should be a clue.

            •  I'm tempted (3+ / 0-)

              You know what I'd really like to do? Ask the principal how much money is owed for school lunches, and see if I can pay it myself, or take up a donation from friends, family members, and co-workers if the amount is beyond my means.

              •  I think that's wonderful if you want to do it but (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AllisonInSeattle, MizC

                I still think they need to understand what effect their actions have on families that truly can't pay and on all the children.  I think the media, in this case, might be able to knock some sense that's obviously lacking into their heads.

                Honestly, that's just horrid.

                E. -6.38, S. -4.62 Move forward or fall back...your choice! Be well my animal babies.

                by JellyBearDemMom on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 07:02:41 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Please do something like that. Some children (0+ / 0-)

                have parents that -- oh, you know, aren't on the beam, but do have the money. There are just a million reasons things like this can happen.

                I was involved in a case like that. My stepson lived during week with his mother. She made a LOT of money, but was highly mentally disorganized. To put it politely.

                His first grade teacher told us, "Just go directly to the food lady, and pay it yourself, he can bring his breakfast tray in here and eat if she brings him late." We did, from then on. Relatively easy.

                You might also consider yearly donations for children who won't be able to have food on field trips. And/or bringing extra valentines boxes in for children who don't have any. I usually get about 6-10 extra boxes for a high-poverty school nearby. Office staff puts them into the teacher's lounge, the teachers know who'll need them, and take them to whichever class.

                You'd think PTAs would take care of this stuff, but they don't necessarily. Most teachers I know of do keep food for students in elementary school on hand. High school counselors have deodorant for those in need in the cupboard.

                AFA your lunch idea, some people who can afford will be in arrears. Some who CANNOT could use your help, office staff or the school nurse might help you know who.

                Maybe not your thing, but I sure would write a letter to the local paper, or better yet, fax them the take-home letter and see if they want to write an article about it.

                Be good to each other. It matters.

                by AllisonInSeattle on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 06:32:18 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  The school social worker should at least inquire. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              AllisonInSeattle, berrieh

              not at all punitively, just in case the family needs help.

              E. -6.38, S. -4.62 Move forward or fall back...your choice! Be well my animal babies.

              by JellyBearDemMom on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 06:57:31 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  OMG , that makes me homicidal. (9+ / 0-)

      Putting that stigma on the children. Someone needs to held accountable for this.

      " Accountability is for little people " - Hunter

      by jnhobbs on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 04:21:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Like they couldn't contact the home to see if (10+ / 0-)

      they needed support or offer the reduced/free lunch info.

      The way things are happening, many financial circumstances have changed since the start of the school year.

      Pass the kleenex.

      "...fighting the wildfires of my life with squirt guns."

      by deMemedeMedia on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 04:42:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Was happening here, too, in another form (0+ / 0-)

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      After a hue and cry, the students were being given a cheese sandwich -- they were otherwise going to have nothing.

      I offered the school nurse $50 to cover as many children as possible during the "donut hole" till their forms returned to the school so they could start getting the regular food. He turned it down.

      He also said there were new FED rules that said the office employees couldn't read and review the "Free food" applications. That meant forms go in, and a lot are turned down for simple errors. Then the parent has to be called by school to fix, send the form in again.

      This is to maintain privacy for the parent/ child, that the forms can't be read in the beginning. On what planet does this make sense? The school employee will know everything if the form comes back.

      Be good to each other. It matters.

      by AllisonInSeattle on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 06:22:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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