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KSweeley

AP: School districts rethink meal debt policies that shame kids

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Posted (edited)

Schools have been reported to throw out full meals of kids, even stamp them: https://apnews.com/affc45f314114094b01f1e649811c4ad/School-districts-rethink-meal-debt-policies-that-shame-kids

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July 4, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Teaching assistant Kelvin Holt watched as a preschool student fell to the back of a cafeteria line during breakfast in Killeen, Texas, as if trying to hide.

“The cash register woman says to this 4-year-old girl, verbatim, ’You have no money,’” said Holt, describing the incident last year. A milk carton was taken away, and the girl’s food was dumped in the trash. “She did not protest, other than to walk away in tears.”

Holt has joined a chorus of outrage against lunchroom practices that can humiliate children as public school districts across the United States rethink how they cope with unpaid student lunch debts.

The U.S. Agriculture Department is requiring districts to adopt policies this month for addressing meal debts and to inform parents at the start of the academic year.

The agency is not specifically barring most of the embarrassing tactics, such as serving cheap sandwiches in place of hot meals or sending students home with conspicuous debt reminders, such as hand stamps. But it is encouraging schools to work more closely with parents to address delinquent accounts and ensure children don’t go hungry.

“Rather than a hand stamp on a kid to say, ‘I need lunch money,’ send an email or a text message to the parent,” said Tina Namian, who oversees the federal agency’s school meals policy branch.

This hand stamp actually happened in Alabama in 2016 where a kid was sent home with a stamped smiley face and under the smiley face, "I need lunch money": http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2016/06/gardendale_elementary_student.html

Edited by KSweeley

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My problem is I watched kids run up debt nearing 1,000 because mom and dad never took care of it.

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35 minutes ago, jtowne-swim said:

My problem is I watched kids run up debt nearing 1,000 because mom and dad never took care of it.

Yes it's a sticky wicket but do you throw good food in the trash and humiliate a young child?

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Some cities have universal freel lunch programs.

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21 minutes ago, jtowne-swim said:

Where do you draw the line?

There has to be something that can be done without taking good food and throwing it in the trash and humiliating them in front of their classmates.

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NYT reports that shaming the child is an attempt to get the parent of said child to pay up for the child to get meals at the school: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/30/well/family/lunch-shaming-children-parents-school-bills.html

Shaming Children So Parents Will Pay the School Lunch Bill

On the first day of seventh grade last fall, Caitlin Dolan lined up for lunch at her school in Canonsburg, Pa. But when the cashier discovered she had an unpaid food bill from last year, the tray of pizza, cucumber slices, an apple and chocolate milk was thrown in the trash.

“I was so embarrassed,” said Caitlin, who said other students had stared. “It’s really weird being denied food in front of everyone. They all talk about you.”

Caitlin’s mother, Merinda Durila, said that her daughter qualified for free lunch, but that a paperwork mix-up had created an outstanding balance. Ms. Durila said her child had come home in tears after being humiliated in front of her friends.

Holding children publicly accountable for unpaid school lunch bills — by throwing away their food, providing a less desirable alternative lunch or branding them with markers — is often referred to as “lunch shaming.”

The practice is widespread — a 2014 report from the Department of Agriculture found that nearly half of all districts used some form of shaming to compel parents to pay bills. (About 45 percent withheld the hot meal and gave a cold sandwich, while 3 percent denied food entirely.)

A Pennsylvania cafeteria worker posted on Facebook that she had quit after being forced to take lunch from a child with an unpaid bill. In Alabama, a child was stamped on the arm with “I Need Lunch Money.” On one day, a Utah elementary school threw away the lunches of about 40 students with unpaid food bills.

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1 hour ago, mrsmlh said:

There has to be something that can be done without taking good food and throwing it in the trash and humiliating them in front of their classmates.

I agree but I am not kidding I watched kids run up debt to the cafeteria in the 1,000 range. Because no one forced their parents to take care of it. Most school districts its 3 days of meals. That is reasonable aside from the fact you can get an auto email when you have two lunches remaining!

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2 hours ago, hst2 said:

Some cities have universal freel lunch programs.

Who pays for those.

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1 hour ago, jtowne-swim said:

Who pays for those.

I'm assuming the tax payers.  God forbid our tax dollars go towards something as silly as ensuring our kids are at their best for learning by making sure they are well-fed :rolleyes:

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8 hours ago, jtowne-swim said:

Who pays for those.

He said free so I guess the good fairy does.

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9 hours ago, jtowne-swim said:

I agree but I am not kidding I watched kids run up debt to the cafeteria in the 1,000 range. Because no one forced their parents to take care of it. Most school districts its 3 days of meals. That is reasonable aside from the fact you can get an auto email when you have two lunches remaining!

I believe you.  Just don't think throwing away good food solves anything and costs the district the same as if the child ate it.  The only thing it does is shame a child who doesn't have control over paying for the food in the first place.

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8 hours ago, banner1124 said:

I'm assuming the tax payers.  God forbid our tax dollars go towards something as silly as ensuring our kids are at their best for learning by making sure they are well-fed :rolleyes:

Correct those poor brats should go hunger because their parents are just lazy.:rolleyes:

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1 hour ago, jonsensback said:

He said free so I guess the good fairy does.

I agree the lunches should be free. The cost of those lunches is small compared to the overall cost of running a school district. 

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25 minutes ago, FatBoy said:

I agree the lunches should be free. The cost of those lunches is small compared to the overall cost of running a school district. 

I think they should be free to those that need them based on income.  And that would include my own grandkids.

 

You would feed your child in the days they are not in school if you are able, so why should the taxpayers foot the bill when they are not?

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1 minute ago, jonsensback said:

I think they should be free to those that need them based on income.  And that would include my own grandkids.

 

You would feed your child in the days they are not in school if you are able, so why should the taxpayers foot the bill when they are not?

Why should the tax payers foot the bill for education?

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12 hours ago, hst2 said:

Some cities have universal freel lunch programs.

Which would of course sidestep the sadism and social ostracism of the paid lunch nonsense.

You can tell some of them get off on forcing the kids to stand and cry while dumping their lunch in the trash. Probably had a good night afterwards.

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Posted (edited)

4 minutes ago, Calamari said:

Which would of course sidestep the sadism and social ostracism of the paid lunch nonsense.

You can tell some of them get off on forcing the kids to stand and cry while dumping their lunch in the trash. Probably had a good night afterwards.

There's been reports that not just the food is thrown out, the kid also gets an actual stamp. In Alabama, a kid got an actual stamp on his arm of a smiley face and underneath the smiley face, the words "I need lunch money.": http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2016/06/gardendale_elementary_student.html

Quote


June 13, 2016

When Jon Bivens' son came home with a stamp on his hand during the last week of school, Bivens didn't think much of it.

"I thought it was a good job stamp," he said.

Upon another glance, Bivens saw that it wasn't a good job stamp. There was a smiley face, and under it a note saying, "I need lunch money."

Bivens' son attends Gardendale Elementary School and just completed third grade.

 

Edited by KSweeley

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12 minutes ago, KSweeley said:

There's been reports that not just the food is thrown out, the kid also gets an actual stamp. In Alabama, a kid got an actual stamp on his arm of a smiley face and underneath the smiley face, the words "I need lunch money.": http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2016/06/gardendale_elementary_student.html

Wtf is wrong with those admin.

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19 minutes ago, jonsensback said:

I think they should be free to those that need them based on income.  And that would include my own grandkids.

 

You would feed your child in the days they are not in school if you are able, so why should the taxpayers foot the bill when they are not?

Keywords:  IF YOU ARE ABLE.  What happens to those kids whose parents aren't able to provide them 3 good meals a day 7 days a week?  

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40 minutes ago, mrsmlh said:

Keywords:  IF YOU ARE ABLE.  What happens to those kids whose parents aren't able to provide them 3 good meals a day 7 days a week?  

That's why I included the words you capitalized.

What does the rest of your post have to do with school lunches?

 

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Totally uncalled for and heartless.

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10 hours ago, banner1124 said:

I'm assuming the tax payers.  God forbid our tax dollars go towards something as silly as ensuring our kids are at their best for learning by making sure they are well-fed :rolleyes:

I know that but my point is local or fed

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2 hours ago, FatBoy said:

I agree the lunches should be free. The cost of those lunches is small compared to the overall cost of running a school district. 

Lunches aren't cheap for a whole school it's all subsidized all ready

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1 hour ago, FatBoy said:

Why should the tax payers foot the bill for education?

Look I am not anti education and I could buy into this just understand school budgets and taxes would need to go up.

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