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Sunday, October 3, 2010

I'm All Fired Up

I received a letter from my child's school district today that has set my blood to boiling.

Funny thing is...it doesn't even directly affect me.

Doesn't matter. I'm making it my business for all those who don't have a voice of their own or are too afraid to stand up and speak out.

In gist, the school district is jumping on the bandwagon of other districts both locally and nationally who are "cracking down on deadbeat parents" who don't pay their child's lunch tab.

What does that mean, you ask?

If you're like me, you have been living in your own little bubble, completely unaware of this issue for...oh, let's see...forever. Since our oldest is just now in school, I've never once heard about this situation.

It seems that some parents are not paying their child's lunch tabs and the negative balance is making it up into the $100's...per student. That alone is staggering considering the average lunch costs around $2.50 per day.

But wait...it gets more alarming...

The school district's answer to this problem? Stop serving the kids the standard lunch--and in some cases (like my son's school district) stop serving them any lunch altogether.

Some districts are mandating this for middle and high schools only. Our district? They apply this new policy to grades 3-12. I guess 3rd graders have more say than a k-2nd grader in whether or not their parents pay their bill--and can surely withstand a full day without eating anything.

The alternative lunch that our district will be serving these "offending" children? A 'peanut butter sandwich and a milk'--but still charging them a "hot plate lunch cost."

After 4 lunches that are unpaid, the student is no longer served anything and they are not even allowed to purchase snacks until the bill is paid in full. So, here you have a 3rd grader who asks his buddy for 50 cents to buy a cookie...so he at least has something to eat after being denied lunch...and you're telling me the cafeteria lady is going to deny him this cookie until his bill is paid in full?? A bill that he has neither the option, the understanding nor ability to pay??

Please tell me I'm not alone in this outrage. Please tell me we're not going to allow the school system to punish the children for something that is the parents' responsibility.

I am actually moved to tears by the thought of a child being pulled out of line, humiliated and told that they can't eat lunch today. They won't understand. They'll have no idea why they are hungry and these adults-- whom they have been taught to trust-- are not letting them eat. It really tears me up.

And it pisses me off.

Excuse the language.

I don't take kindly to children being bullied, and in my mind, this is tantamount to children being bullied.

I have not come across another school in m y novice research that is flat out denying children the option of eating. I have read about schools both locally and nationally who are opting for the "alternative" lunch, but NEVER complete refusal to feed them.

Is this legal?

For some of these children, this is the only meal they get in a day.

Have we really come so far in society that money is more impartant than feeding a child?

Should the parents have to pay? Absolutely.

There are programs in place for those with financial difficulty.

Should the child go hungry until the parents rectify the situation.

Absolutely not.

I've emailed the superintendent, the cafeteria manager, and the school district's social worker. I hope to receive a response soon--especially since this has already been enacted and there are 4 possible days that kids were denied lunch alreadt--and the policy change had not yet been announced (?!)

Check with your local schools. Do they have a policy in place like this? Does anyone know the legalities of the school not feeding children?
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