Saturday, February 28, 2009

Can't Believe This

It disgusts me that the families receiving this FREE food, that tax payers are paying for, have the gall to complain, rather than be grateful! There is no law that says the school district has to feed THEIR children! What the heck do parents see as their own reponsibility toward their kids? I always thought that the three basics were food, clothing and shelter. What ever happened to being grateful for something received, especially in charity? When I think of entire populations, especially children, starving to DEATH every minute of every day, I am ashamed that these complainers in New Mexico are citizens of the United States of America. They certainly don't deserve it. Would that little girl who is embarrassed rather go hungry every day at lunch time?

"ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Budget realities of struggling families and a struggling school system have collided in New Mexico's largest district.

Faced with mounting unpaid lunch charges in the economic downturn, Albuquerque Public Schools last month instituted a "cheese sandwich policy." The alternative cold meals are served to children whose parents fail to pick up their lunch tab.

Food and Nutrition Director Mary Swift said the school district had to take action because delinquent charges were getting out of hand. She said all parents have to do if they can't afford hot meals is apply for the free and reduced meal program, reported KOAT-TV in Albuquerque.

School districts in three other states have also taken to serving cheese sandwiches to lunch debtors.

Critics argue it's a form of punishment for children whose parents can't afford to pay. In some cases, parents are waiting for approval to participate in government-aided lunch programs.

"We are taking an adult problem, and the children are the ones getting the punishment for it," said Dr. Paula Hill.

Many are outraged, saying a cold cheese sandwich is not nutritious enough to sustain children for an entire school day.

"Many of these children don't have breakfast, they may not have supper, and this is the only meal they may get," said Joyce Victoriano, a grandparent.

Other parents say it singles their children out. At a January meeting of the Albuquerque Public School Board, one mother said, "She is embarrassed to go to school and talks about it every night when I am getting her in the bathtub, and it just hurts."

In New Mexico, nearly 60 percent of public school students, about 204,000, received free or reduced-price lunches at the beginning of the school year.

In Albuquerque, unpaid lunch charges hover around $140,000 for the first five months of the school year. In less than two months in to the cheese sandwich program, the district has collected about collected $91,000 and identified 2,000 students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, which allows students to get a hot meal when their parents can't afford it."


RamblingMother said...

What is worse is that paying for a full week is really cheap. And to qualify for the free lunch doesn't require poverty!

Amy said...

I work in the public school system, and I see firsthand, especially in this economy, how easy it is for families to fall behind. One parent may lose a job, then another, emergency funds run out, and then the kids are stuck eating school meals for nutrition, and families are taking handouts from food pantries, etc. Especially single parents, imagine if you lose your job for health reasons or cutbacks or whatever, funds run out, and you too could be stuck in the same position as so many others.
If I were in such a situation, I would feel terrible that my son's nutrition had to suffer because of my temporary economic situation. I disagree with parents that are demanding, but I think our society could do better and provide ONE simple yet healthy and diverse meal to kids who are from low income families and attending school.

Kim said...

I guess what I wonder, if a family is destitute, why not apply for the meal program? Was it better to stiff the school than to apply for a program to help their kids?

If I lost my job as a single mom and the kiddo was in school, one of the first things I'd do is sign up for free lunch. It is there to help.