Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Great Lunch Money Debate


I have read three stories in the last six months similar to this one

All of them are condemning schools who don't give students free standard meals. The school policies range, in the story above the school would throw out student lunches if they got to the end of the line and couldn't pay. Other schools offered "humanitarian" lunches which usually consist of something like a pb&j and milk. Other schools check accounts prior to giving food and simply refuse to serve the students.

All of these schools are receiving a strong backlash from the public. They are accused of starving the students and humiliating them. Yet is it the school's fault?

I know this will create a big debate and cause strange feelings but I actually agree with the schools! Most schools don't have the funds to provide your child with meals, and many schools are running at a deficit due to parents who tell their children to eat the school lunches yet refuse to pay for them. I have no doubt that many parents forgot, but that is the parents responsibility, yes a system should be established to auto call or email when a balance is low but again it is the PARENT'S responsibility.

I know its a hot subject and it is horrible when children go hungry. Louisiana has established a guideline where if your child goes to get lunch three times with no money in their account then DHS will pay you a visit. Yes, it is harsh. So is allowing your child to starve because you can't bother to call the school to check their account or remember to write a check every month... or pack them a lunch! Again, I know this will be a heated blog post and that my opinion may be offensive. I know that we aren't perfect and even an amazing parent can forget a lunch payment. If you miss three then I'm sorry but it is a problem. I am tired of seeing these schools bow to public pressure. Our education dollars should be spent on EDUCATING!

There is a federal program for reduced or even free lunches and breakfasts for low income families (some schools even provide free breakfast). It is the parents job to sign up for these programs, I have been to many schools and they always tell you about them. The school will get additional funds for every child enrolled in the lunch program to subsidize the cost. If you have money problems and don't qualify then there is always packing a lunch. Homemade lunches can be healthier and cheaper than the school alternative!

Everyone knows that students focus better when they have eaten. No one wants any student to starve, but when the choice is piles of debt or hungry students or textbooks or lunches what is the correct decision for the school? Please parents, be responsible for your children. By all means petition the school to start calling or emailing when student accounts are low, but ultimately be responsible for your child.

Go ahead, feel free to disagree. Sound off below.