I went to a school board meeting last night. The hot topic?
HOT SCHOOL LUNCHES!!!
Many schools carry “lunch room debt” throughout the year, and how this debt has or hasn’t been dealt with has been the subject of a great deal of press across the country.
Last spring, our school board decided to opt out of a practice that had taken hold during some of the worst days of the 2008-and-later economic downturn. I hope someday, “Shame Lunches,” AKA, “Courtesy Lunches,” will one day be a distant memory. Originally conceived with probably the best of intentions, these brown bag lunches were handed out to students whose parents held a negative balance on their lunch accounts.
Somewhat meager, yet nutritionally sound, courtesy lunches unfortunately were easily recognizable to all students, and therefore carried a stigma with them that many students chose not to endure. Rather than face the shame that partaking in such a lunch might incur, they would choose instead to go hungry.
Let’s talk about this. Current brain research is quite clear on one issue: human brains need nutrition to function properly. If brains don’t get good food, they don’t work well. Specifically, if our children are at school hungry, they are not learning at an optimum level.
So paying for an education for children, and then posing barriers to their intake of fuel, is a lot like spending all your money on a nice car, but not bothering to buy gas. Except, of course, that we are talking here about our very precious children.
In plain terms: paying for teacher salaries, school buildings, supplies, administrative costs, is not money well spent if the children we are spending it on can’t learn because they are hungry.
So I couldn’t be happier that our school board decided last spring to discontinue one barrier: The Shame Lunch. Instead, each child will be given a lunch equal to each other child’s lunch, regardless of the lunch debt they carry.
This is only right. Yes, brains need fuel to function, but brains also need a sense of safety to function, and feeling shamed is counterproductive to this important sense of security.
One problem. The lunch debt still exists. Last year the school district collected about $6,000 in public donations (from local businesses and individuals) to pay off $4,000 in debt. So it is likely that we will need to replenish that donation account before the year is over.
Personally, I don’t believe the school district should have to ask for public donations for this, since food for children who can’t afford it should be, “the cost of doing business.”
However, this is where we are. These are our children. They are our future and will someday be our physicians, lawyers, mechanics, politicians, clergy, and teachers. And they shouldn’t go hungry.
Can you help out? Here’s a link to help you donate.
If you can manage it, I thank you for contributing to this fund so our kids are fed. Oh and. Feeding kids: it’s just plain the right thing to do!