I have to admire the fact that the school district is doing something about hungry children, but then again, isn't that the whole point of the school lunch program? Wasn't it developed so that children would at least get one decent meal a day regardless of their home situation?
What really has me riled up about this is the comments to the post. There are those in the "you shouldn't have children you can't pay for!" camp. Never mind that we're in one of the biggest economic downturns since the Great Depression. Never mind that the children we're talking about were conceived 7+ years ago, before we started dumping all kinds of money into needless wars and tax cuts for the rich. None of that matters, just ask them. They think that elementary school children just magically appear, already formed, with outstretched hands, demanding food of all things from the society that is going to depend on them to take care of them in retirement. The audacity!
Then there are the commenters out there that say, "I just don't understand how anyone can not afford a $1 per day to feed their child!" This is an example of just how fragmented our society is. New Mexico is not New York. Like much of the central and western part of the country it is poorer, sicker, and fatter than the richer parts of the nation. There are people out there that prior to the economic downturn were likely able to afford the dollar a day for their two kids in school. That would have come out to roughly $40/month. But lets say mom was laid off from her job as an agency nurse. Or dad got hurt on the job. Now $40/month is out of the question. They're trying to figure out how they're going to keep the lights turned on. Sure they can get unemployment or workman's comp, but I wonder how many of these people making these comments have ever had to deal with those two institutions. I never have, but I've watched friends and family fight tooth and nail for their unemployment and workman's comp all while the bills pile up. Even if these families do get these benefits its going to take awhile before their paperwork gets processed for the free/reduced lunch programs.
The next variety of comment that gets me riled up is the "Why don't they just send their kids with a brown bag lunch?" The same people that don't understand how people can't afford $1 per day can't afford that same amount to buy food. Most of the people in this country have grown up in a time where there has been very little poverty. Few people know what its like to really be in need. I would encourage these people to go read the letters people wrote to Mrs. FDR during the depression. Here's an example:
Nov. 6, 1936
Dear Mrs. Roosevelt
I am writing to you for some of your old soiled dresses if you have any. As I am a poor girl who has to stay out of school. On account of dresses & slips and a coat. I am in the seventh grade but I have to stay out of school because I have no books or clothes to ware. I am in need of dresses & slips and a coat very bad. If you have any soiled clothes that you don't want to ware I would be very glad to get them. But please do not let the news paper reporters get hold of this in any way and I will keep it from geting out here so there will be no one else to get hold of it. But do not let my name get out in the paper. I am thirteen years old.
Miss L. H.
c/o A. H.
This is what real need looks like. It has happened here before and there are parts of the country where it can still happen today.
The above letter also demonstrates one of the greater problems of this whole cheese sandwich tier of school lunches. These kids whose parents can't pay are being singled out. Yes its great that they're actually getting to eat (why is that the minimum standard anyhow) but they're being forced to trade their pride for their lunch. The kids who qualify for free and reduced lunches are able to eat the same hot lunch as those who pay so why are these kids stuck in the middle forced to be different. The girl who wrote the letter to Mrs. Roosevelt was worried that word would get out that she didn't have enough clothes. This girl wasn't complaining that her clothes weren't as nice as the other kids, she just wanted clothes in the first place.
The tone of the comments on the piece at Motherlode smack of elitism and show a sincere lack of compassion. These people think that the cheese sandwich parents aren't paying because they're deadbeats, not because they may actually suffering. They liken the kids who have to eat cheese sandwiches to the kids that complain because they don't have $100 jeans like their friends. They accuse the parents of having kids they can't take care of. They think the kids should just be grateful that they're being fed at all. Some of the posters have admitted that they don't have children. I can see why they wouldn't understand. What worries me is those who have children. What message are they sending about compassion to their own kiddos? When are these people going to realize that we all need to take care of one another. Its not that child's fault that his parents can't afford to feed him. Regardless of what these people crying about their tax dollars think it is our job to make sure every child has enough to eat. Where is the compassion people?