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Lunch Shaming


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This stuff has been going on for a while. At least I've seen articles about it for what has been at least several years now.  Beyond having cruelty/carelessness about kids thrown into the mix by some people, there have also been the lunchroom employees who pay for the kids' food out of their own pockets or simply disobey orders and give them the food regardless. Some end up quitting or being fired over it.  There are people trying to do right within the strictures of the system.

The problem underlying this (and it was to some extent brought out through that Jamie Oliver TV series) is the financial structuring of school lunch programs.  This is not going to change without really aggressive changes to the concept of public school lunch in the US, which I don't see happening any time soon. The federal government has requirements in terms of reimbursements. Local schools have to meet often very tight budgets while providing quality food.  When enough kids' lunch accounts get behind, it can cause a financial crisis for a school district. They've got to come up with the money somewhere.

One of the things that seems needlessly sad about this is that it appears a good number of the kids getting shamed could have free lunches if parents filled out the paperwork.  For plenty of different reasons (exhaustion, indifference, privacy/deportation fears) there are parents not filling out the paperwork.

I also noticed, by looking at the original article on that Alabama case, that the parent had deliberately let his child's lunch balance get low because the school year was almost over, and his son mostly took his lunch but would occasionally buy ice cream or something like that to supplement his lunch. He didn't want to run a big positive balance over the summer, but the school district triggers a warning when the account gets below a certain amount (I think it might have been $7.)  

Free lunches for everybody--built into the school budgets at both the federal and state levels--would solve this.

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