February 27, 2009

Let them eat cheese sandwiches

Ugh, I was poking around on Feministing because I haven't flogged myself yet and found a link to this story. I also saw it on Womanist Musings though.

When parents fail to pay lunch tab, Albuquerque school district serves cheese sandwiches to kids

ALBUQUERQUE — Faced with mounting unpaid lunch charges, Albuquerque Public Schools last month instituted a "cheese sandwich policy," serving a cold cheese sandwich, fruit and a milk carton to children whose parents are supposed to pay for some or all of their regular meals but fail to pick up the tab.

Such policies have become a necessity for schools seeking to keep budgets in the black while ensuring children don't go hungry. School districts in Chula Vista, Calif.; Hillsborough County, Fla.; and Lynnwood, Wash. have similar policies.

Parents who qualify for free meals are not affected.

Some Albuquerque parents have pleaded with school board members to stop singling out their children because they're poor, while others are thanking the district for a policy that demands parental responsibility.

And some more.

So what do we think, crew? Is it fair to single out poor students whose parents can't or won't pay for their lunch tab? Is a cheese sandwich, fruit & milk a suitable meal?

The educational system makes me ill. Some of the responses to this story that it's not a big deal or that it's pretty just makes me ill. I'm still not seeing this as a good thing, especially when kids are reportedly hiding during lunch so they don't have to face the shame of being seen with their piddly lunches. Not a big deal? So the self-esteem of kids isn't a big deal anymore? I see you with binoculars but I don't think you understand the problem...

Obviously I don't live in New Mexico. When I was a kid, I was apparently too rich for reduced lunch so I ate the school food, actually right up to my last couple of years of high school when the price of lunch skyrocketed to over $2 and it keeps getting higher. And it keeps getting higher for elementary and middle school kids too--$1, then it's a $1.75, if it keeps going up like this kids in kindergarten will end up paying like $3 for lunch. And that's RIGHT? How many kids you think are going to be on free/reduced lunch because their parents can't keep paying so much money for food?

So my last two years of high school I ended up bringing my own lunch, and even that proved expensive when you're living off $32,000 between expensive bills, mortgages, school supplies...yeah, at some point it got difficult to afford a sandwich and a juice carton with chips, and that was usually what I had. Not to mention my mom worked nights, and even though I could cook very well on my own, sometimes we really did not have foo in the house. Can you believe that? No breakfast, small lunch, small dinner. Think about it, I'm about 117 at this point. These kids are getting a cheese sandwich, a fruit cup, and a milk. Do you think that's enough for a child? Maybe you do. Maybe that's more than either of us got for lunch, but I honestly do not think that's going to cut it.

It's not about just getting a cheese sandwich. These kids are ashamed of their status, whether society teaches them to be or not--so you're going to go and change their minds over night? Solutions? I've already told you what I think, maybe it's your turn. When we cry out, "Think of the children!" I wonder if we really mean it.


  1. Here it's a peanut butter sandwich.
    Every year, every child recieves forms for parents to fill out stating whether or not their child needs free or reduced lunches. If the parents don't want their children singled out for being poor, they would fill out the forms at the beginning of the school year. It's not the poor kids who aren't picking up lunch tabs-it's parents who are too lazy to throw their kid 2 bucks a day who are being singled out. These same lunch ladies who are serving sandwiches up are also heading up bag luch programs-programs that put together bags of food for high risk children to take home over weekends and holidays who will not likely eat otherwise. I think credit should be given where credit is due: I applaud those int eh public school system that are making a difference in the forgotten children's lives. Those who collect school supplies underwear and socks and coats and bag lunches to be shared with their younger brothers and sisters who haven't even reached school age yet. You don't hear about these things as much as how horrible-a cheese sandwich!

  2. The sad irony is that the cheese sandwich lunches are more healthy than much of what is served regularly in public school cafeterias.


Please share some knowledge. Or amuse me at least :O