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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The School Lunch Crisis

Image: KCPQ-TV
You may have heard about the outrageous incident in Kent, WA recently when a student who was 26 cents short on his school lunch card was not only denied his lunch, but the lunch was tossed in the trash and the student was humiliated in front of his peers.


It's not just in Kent, but around the nation and for far too long, we've been hearing similar reports of children being denied school lunches and bullied by the very people serving them due to an inability to pay.

It is a national embarrassment. And enough's enough. This is the United States of America. These are our kids, not inmates at a North Korean prison camp.

There was a time my mom couldn't afford my school lunch money. The lunch ladies served me anyway and gave me a form to take home to my mom about the reduced or free school lunch program. She'd send me back with it next day with her information. I still got lunch. Problem solved thereafter.

Why can't it still be this way?

Sometimes parents lost jobs, sometimes there would be financial hardships. The principals and teachers knew this and they would eagerly talk to parents and see if their kids qualified for reduced or free school breakfast/lunch programs until they got back on their feet. Sometimes a bully took your lunch money. It made no difference. You still got a decent lunch.

And we funded these programs well during the '50s, '60s and '70s. Granted, it wasn't the greatest taste explosion for some of us.

I couldn't wait for pizza day!
But for others, we'll never forgot them because they got us by and we looked forward to them, no matter what they seemed like to us.

People then never viewed it as a problem. Or as "socialism". Or any myriad of disgusting and completely WRONG analogies that never even appeared in the public discourse until the 1980s when the Reagan administration made devastating cutbacks in public education and drastically reducing funding for school lunch programs. A precedent that has only gotten worse.

Since that time, public education funding has dropped even further, leaving school districts to make up the balance in unpaid meals or to serve special alternate lunches for indigent children (a concept I find revolting because it marks poor children in the lunchroom, making them targets for bullies. Poor children in the school lunch program deserve exactly the same lunch offerings in the same portions as everyone else.)

School lunch programs were once viewed as an investment in children. An investment that has paid off incalculably since the 1940s. And we never thought twice about it. And it's time to let our representatives in Congress know we view it that way again. Because it is an investment in our children's education. And one of the worthiest.

But instead of talking about it, some of us are DOING something about it.

Come to Louie G's Pizza in Fife, WA Friday July 11th at 7:30pm for a spectacular all ages benefit show featuring cutting edge Northwest music from Boneshaker, Alien Nation, Q-Dot, Mister Von and Gossamer. Proceeds to go to a special fund to help needy local school children afford school lunches. A great night of music and fun for all at the Northwest's BEST place for live music, food and fun for the whole family. Voted among the Best in Western Washington by KING-5's Evening Magazine.

And please donate what you can to help.


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