A cafeteria worker in Pennsylvania quit her job after she was forced to take a hot lunch from a student and instead give him a sandwich. Why? Because his parents ran up his lunch bill. So, instead of a hot lunch the little boy got a cold sandwich and a big gulp of humiliation with which to wash it down.

Don't dig into that school lunch yet...there's more!

And as if that wasn't bad enough, the cafeteria worker was then forced to throw the lunch away. So...let's recap: kid can't have hot lunch because he couldn't pay for it, so he gets the cold lunch and the hot lunch gets tossed. The school district (read: your tax money) basically just paid for two lunches to teach the parents a lesson. Oh, and to humiliate a kid. 

Now, I'm not saying that's it's okay for parents to not pay for their kids' lunch accounts. If you have the ability to pay, Mom and Dad, then do it. If you can't afford it, that's what reduced and free lunch programs are for, so sign up if you need to. And I'm not saying that school districts don't have the right to go after the money owed them for the food kids consume. But some administrators might want to take into consideration two things:

  • The wrong people are being punished
  • Lunch might be the best -if not the only-- meal some of these kids get.

No hot school lunch for you!

People should pay bills and there should be consequences if they go unpaid,but this #lunch shaming is ridiculous. First off, the wrong person is paying the price (pun intended). I can't see how a child's psyche doesn't take a hit, or how it doesn't set a child up as a target for bullies. Also, fiscally it makes zero sense because it means you have to make up two sets of lunches, food for accounts in good standing, and food for those accounts that are not. And you can't tell me the practice doesn't create a stigma. Kids know what the cold school lunch means, just like when I was a kid, we knew that kids who ate hot lunch instead of bringing a bag lunch were poor. (At least where I was from that was the case.)

A modest proposal for school lunches

Here's an idea; the next time a kid runs up a lunch bill, feed him like usual and send a note home. Send the free and reduced lunch papers with the note. Maybe if the parents don't have to swallow their pride and ask for them they'll take the opportunity when it's presented to them. But there is no reason whatsoever for a child to have to go through the humiliation of everyone knowing they can't afford what their friends are getting. Leave the kids out of it.  #back to school #school lunches