I recently read about a public school sandwich policy in one of the groups on CafeMom. Albuquerque Public Schools are pulling kids whose parents have unpaid lunch charges out of the lunch line and giving them an "alternative meal" consisting of a cold cheese sandwich, a piece of fruit, and a milk carton.
I found this upsetting on so many levels. As the economic crisis worsens, more and more families are struggling to spare lunch money (among plenty of other things). The article notes that kids often view the cold cheese sandwiches (in lieu of a hot meal) as a form of punishment for not being able to afford lunch. Plus, some of the kids in the article mentioned that being singled out was particularly embarrassing to them.
On the other hand, the school district is in a tough position as well. The economic situation is hitting schools hard, too, and there isn't room in the budget to ignore the unpaid lunch charges-which is purported to reach $300,000 by the end of the school year. The district is in the process of collecting money from parents as well as identifying students who may qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. But in the meantime there are plenty of students-not just in New Mexico, but across the country-who are eating cold cheese sandwiches or sometimes nothing at all.
CafeMoms are split-some feel it's as simple as having the parents own up to their responsibility to make sure they pay their child's lunch fees or pack them a lunch. Many moms suggest swallowing their pride and getting on the reduced lunch program. I think all agree that it is hard for a child to be singled out. But it all starts with the parents.
What do you think about the "sandwich policy?" Have you seen a simliar policy in your child's school?
Written by Kim Conte for CafeMom's Food & Party Buzz.