How Mormons deal with poverty


It’s very Republican. Uintah Elementary School had a bunch of deadbeat kids who weren’t paying their lunch money, so something must be done. And it must be done in the worst, most callous and insensitive way. So they snatched the lunches away from kids after serving them.

Jason Olsen, a Salt Lake City District spokesman, said the district’s child-nutrition department became aware that Uintah had a large number of students who owed money for lunches.

As a result, the child-nutrition manager visited the school and decided to withhold lunches to deal with the issue, he said.

But cafeteria workers weren’t able to see which children owed money until they had already received lunches, Olsen explained.

The workers then took those lunches from the students and threw them away, he said, because once food is served to one student it can’t be served to another.

Brilliant. Utterly brilliant. Not one penny was saved, and the children still went hungry. You would think that at some point someone would have said that this plan makes no sense at all — especially in Morridor, where everyone pays such fervent lip service to the importance of charity — but as we all know, punishing the poor is an American hobby.

It really isn’t just a Mormon thing. Congress just passed a farm bill that cuts the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Not only does it not increase funding for the program to meet growing demand, it will cut it by nearly $9 billion over 10 years. Put in more tangible terms, 850,000 low-income households will take huge hits to their ability to afford food, according to Bread for the World president David Beckmann, and the average family in need will lose around $90 per month.

That’s right, congress finally managed to pass a bill by accommodating the Batshit Republican Faction and slapping the poor around some more. And our Simpering Democratic Collaborationists have flopped to the ground and praised it as a triumph.

Comments

  1. Dick the Damned says

    I remember when America was viewed as the land of opportunity & liberty, where the future course of humanity lay waiting. Now, not so much.

  2. =8)-DX says

    That is just disgusting. Someone should sue them or something. I mean in my kid’s school I guess they have an electronic lunch system and if the child hasn’t ordered a meal for that day through the online booking system then she wont get fed I guess, but then we have these newfangled electronic chip things… but I would expect to have teachers calling us saying “your kid doesn’t have lunches paid for, please come in as soon as possible to pay”, rather than taking their fuckin’ lunches away. Inability to pay for school lunches is the parents’ responsibility, not their kids… and poor kids get enough flak from their peers let alone having school staff making an “example” of them.

    And then we also have social security and children’s benefits AND extreme-situation benefits (I can’t afford to pay for my child’s school lunch is counted as an extreme situation) to help the poor pay for basics like this.

  3. DrVanNostrand says

    I’ve always thought it was absurd that school lunch isn’t simply provided to all students, paid for like all other school services (books, teachers, facilities, etc…). For far too many students, school lunch is their only reliable meal, and the students in the most need of free lunch programs often aren’t enrolled for a variety of reasons (shame, fear due to immigration or some other legal status, lack of parental engagement, etc…). It just seems like one of those solutions that could do a lot of good, isn’t terribly expensive, and is easy to implement.

  4. sonofrojblake says

    Not one penny was saved, and the children still went hungry

    I assume the narrative line above was the reason your quote from the original article stopped immediately before the words:

    “Children whose lunches were taken were given milk and fruit instead.”

    i.e. no children “went hungry”, but were instead, at additional expense, provided with something nutritious but just not necessarily of their choice. Still pretty humiliating and poorly thought out, but not the “WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF TEH STARVING CHILDRENZ!!!1!1″ hysteria that stopping where you did implies.

  5. says

    Easy to implement for sure: all the facilities are right there, but we’re damn well committed to institutionalizing the rich-poor divide from first grade on.

  6. says

    #5, sonofrojblake:

    Are you seriously justifying taking a hot lunch out of kids’ hands because they handed them an orange and a half-pint of milk? Seriously? That makes it all better?

    I see someone straining to distort the message and diminish the criminality here, and it’s not me: it’s you.

    Why not just end the whole cafeteria thing altogether, and hand all the kids a piece of fruit and a bit of milk every day?

  7. =8)-DX says

    Reading the whol article – Essentially this looks like the action of an individual (they had an electronic system up and running, but it presumably wasn’t working – a system failing to send e-mail notifications is a sys-admin/programmer task, no one else’s problem) – the blame rests entirely on the “child-nutrition manager” who couldn’t give a crap about the nutrition of children, and any other administration representatives who let this disgusting person prove whatever spiteful “point” they wanted to prove.

    Linking to another article on sltrib whith much more info: here

    Uintah is not in a low-income neighborhood, and only about 11 percents of its students qualify for free or reduced price lunches.

    So singling out those kids was basically “look at the nasty poor children who haven’t paid their bills!”
    But people are complaining, the manager in question is on leave and they’re conteplating firing the person who did this. Weiler:

    ” I think it’s an abuse of power,” he said. “This person came into a school and used her power to humiliate and embarrass children and I think we ought to draw a line and say that’s not acceptable behavior.”

  8. sonofrojblake says

    Are you seriously justifying taking a hot lunch out of kids’ hands because they handed them an orange and a half-pint of milk? Seriously? That makes it all better?

    Since I explicitly described it as humiliating and poorly thought out, the answer has to be “no… DUH”.

    And “criminality”? Taking something away from someone because they haven’t paid for it is “criminality”? I thought taking something you haven’t paid for was the criminal one. Guess I got confused.

    It just seemed to me disingenuous to cut the quote of where you did, then explicitly say the children “went hungry”, which wasn’t true.

  9. ludicrous says

    It seems quite likely to me that the person who made that decision to take away the lunches remains under the influence of an abusive childhood “discipline” experience. Maybe there are other explanations but I doubt it. Frighten, show no compassion, deprive of physical and emotional nourishment and humiliate is all too often the essence of religious rearing. That experience when young stays with you and will rear its ugly head when you don’t expect it, and don’t realize it. Happens to most of us I think and only rises to awareness in retrospect.

  10. unbound says

    @2 – Actually, in my school district at least, they do let the kids overdraw (a little at least) and send notes that we need to put more money in the account. This is the first year that I get pro-active notifications when my kids’ account are running low.

    @4 – I can see a bit of a complication with that. For student athletes, the amount of food provided by default is way, way too low to support their activity (this is what happens when you over-simplify a complex issue like obesity). My daughter has to buy 2 lunches during her athletic seasons (fall and spring) and still has to bring snacks to make sure she has sufficient calories for the day. While it would be good to just provide the food, they would still have to have a mechanism to allow for supplementation.

    @5 – Thanks for clarifying that not only did that school throw good food out and humiliate children in front of their peers for reasons beyond their control, they tried to make themselves feel better by wasting more money to under nourish the kids as well. Do you really think it is moral? It’s like taking a dollar out of a homeless man’s hand, but reassuring yourself that you are a good person by giving him a quarter. WTF?

  11. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    Ach, blockquote tag borked, sorry.

    Yeah, that’s not what you need to be sorry for. A glass of milk and a piece of fruit is not a substitute for a hot meal, and kids should not be punished for being born into a poor family.

    Over the past couple of weeks or so, I have become steadily more convinced that you are a huge flaming arsehole.

  12. DrVanNostrand says

    @12
    You make a good point. However, even if the “free lunch” were limited to the first serving, it would still do a lot of good. I’d also have no problem with simply having no cash register at all, so to speak. As far as I’m concerned, students should simply be supplied with the food they need at lunch, and it’s not at all difficult to imagine any number of strategies for accomplishing that with existing infrastructure.

  13. doublereed says

    And “criminality”? Taking something away from someone because they haven’t paid for it is “criminality”? I thought taking something you haven’t paid for was the criminal one. Guess I got confused.

    It just seemed to me disingenuous to cut the quote of where you did, then explicitly say the children “went hungry”, which wasn’t true.

    A piece of fruit is not a meal. So yes “went hungry” is perfectly true and you’re just trying so hard to rationalize immoral behavior.

    Why the fuck are you defending this, exactly? Seriously, what are you trying to do? It’s like you’re trying to justify taking candy from a baby… except candy doesn’t help your education and long term prospects as far as I’ve seen.

  14. pocketnerd says

    It’s never too early to teach those parasitic moochers that they deserve neither dignity nor compassion, and they should be damned grateful for whatever crumbs the ubermenschen job creators allow them to lick from the floor.

  15. carlie says

    The whole thing was a clusterfuck, systemwide.

    If they’re going to penalize children and not let them get lunch when the account is low, then the card swipe should be at point of entry to the cafeteria line, not point of sale. That would avoid the “taking it away” business.

    Kids shouldn’t be the ones responsible for their lunch money when it’s an account-based system their parents have to pay into (as opposed to being handed money every day, which I think most school districts now don’t even allow). Send the parents notification when their account goes negative, then switch the kid to an alternate lunch if they don’t pay up in a specified amount of time. (and for the love of all that is not holy, NOT A FUCKING PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH THANK YOU FROM ALL THE ALLERGIC KIDS) Or hey, maybe send the parents an email when they get down to $5 so it doesn’t go negative in the first place. And allow them to pay online, to make it easier. I know at my house, we go negative every damned time because Child 2 buys lunch once a week, so forgets to tell us that the lunch person told him his account was low until the next week, usually when he’s on his way out the door to school, and by the next morning everyone’s forgotten again, repeat a week later until the note comes home with him that we’re under. If I got an email notice and could immediately deposit some online? Wouldn’t be a problem at all.

    The worst thing possible to do is humiliate the children in school. How does that possibly achieve the goal of getting parents to pay up? All you’ve done is emotionally scar the child and, if they even tell their parents about it, enrage the parents to the point of possibly never letting the kid buy lunch again, which hurts the lunch program. It’s just so stupid.

  16. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    9
    sonofrojblake

    It just seemed to me disingenuous to cut the quote of where you did, then explicitly say the children “went hungry”, which wasn’t true.

    Guaranfuckingtee you they were still hungry. Why were they still hungry? Because they were denied lunch. There’s no fucking way they were properly feed enough to learn and function off a token snack.

    Not to mention after just being shamed and traumatized.

    And foodstamps were just cut. More hungry kids that will depend on school lunch even more but nope, fuck those poor people…

    *sigh*

    My daughter comes home hungry after just having lunch and snack at school and I shudder to think how much harder it’s going to be now.

  17. carlie says

    In case anyone who hasn’t dealt with the system is wondering how a parent wouldn’t know when the account was low: since it’s a swipe card instead of having cash, a lot of kids (ahem, mine) do grab extras now and then on extra-hungry days, so even if I count the days he eats lunch there and multiply by the amount, that isn’t how long the money lasts because it turns out oh, this day he got an ice cream, this day he got a cheese stick, this day he was thirsty and got an extra drink, etc. I can send in a check for $20 and expect it to last a certain amount of time, and then it turns out it always runs out sooner.

  18. ledasmom says

    Either fruit and milk is an adequate lunch for growing children or it is not. If it is, then give it to all the children; if it isn’t, then it’s not an adequate replacement lunch for the kids without money.
    Remember what it was like being a growing child? I remember getting hungry between lunch and the end of school, desperate to get home and eat something. Fruit’s a good stopgap but it isn’t nearly enough.
    On looking up calorie content of common fruits, I find between about 30 and 50 for half-a-cup; let us double that – heck, let’s triple that. Say 150, then. Let us say the milk was chocolate; that’s about 160 more calories. Let’s round up our total to 350.
    Now, it may be that the children were given unlimited milk and fruit. It’s possible. But as it stands I’m going to assume they weren’t, leaving them with a lunch of less than 400 calories. Does that seem even remotely adequate for growing children, and at that growing children who might not be getting an adequate breakfast and dinner?

  19. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @ledasmom

    I know (because my whole family is currently on a diet and are constantly telling each other the calorie content of what they are eating) that an apple has 100 – 150 calories. 1 30ml cup (so a coke-can size) of pasturised whole milk has 20 calories.

    I think your estimate is far too generous. It’s possible that they are getting less than half that.

  20. Great American Satan says

    Maaaaaaan, fuck the whole fucking world off. War was declared on the poor some decades ago, and we’ve been losing. I can’t complete the thought once again without the language of violence, so I’ll just … I don’t know. Rage Against the Machine & The Coup just never get old. I am never going to see a day when their lyrics aren’t relevant and inspiring… in ways that are physically dangerous to the rich.

    I’m not speaking for the Horde when I say this. Just me and the angriest poor. Stop killing us, rich guys. Hungry people don’t stay hungry for long. It was starvation in the streets that took down Mubarak. Word to the wise.

  21. kevinalexander says

    If JESUS wants the little parasites to eat then let Him send some loaves and fucking fishes, or manna,…or something.
    Obviously the LORD wants the poor humiliated and shamed and to go hungry. Why else do you suppose He put His blessed party in control of Congress?

  22. sonofrojblake says

    @unbound, 12:

    Do you really think it is moral? It’s like taking a dollar out of a homeless man’s hand, but reassuring yourself that you are a good person by giving him a quarter. WTF?

    No, I don’t think it’s moral. I think it’s fucked up. In fact, I think, for exactly the reason you state, that it actually looks worse than just taking their lunches off them and giving them nothing.

    Which is why I’m baffled why PZ snipped where he did and went with the “children went hungry” line, giving the impression they were sent away with nothing, when they weren’t.

    Expressing disapproval of the dishonest way this was reported in no way implies that I condone what actually happened in any way, and you’d have to be a flaming arsehole to impute that I do.

  23. ck says

    Thumper: Token Breeder wrote:

    1 30ml cup (so a coke-can size) of pasturised whole milk has 20 calories.

    A can of Coke tends to be around 355ml. An equivalent amount of 2% milk (I doubt whole milk would be provided) would be about 185 calories, or whole milk would provide about 205 calories. Still not an adequate lunch either way.

  24. ledasmom says

    Thumper @ 21:
    My reading of your link is that the 20 calories is for 30 ml. whole milk in a cup of tea or coffee, with 250 ml. whole milk (a little over 8 fluid ounces, or one cup) having 165 calories. I did err on the generous side in my estimates – fruit and milk is not an adequate lunch for children even given that.
    Note: This is not to say that it would be inappropriate for a child who could count on additional calories being available later to eat a piece of fruit and a glass of milk as their midday meal. It is fruit and milk as the only available meal for children who could not necessarily expect to fill in missing calories/nutrients over the rest of the day that I am objecting to.
    I am rather happy that years of pie experience translated into a decent estimate on the whole-apple-to-cups conversion.

  25. Vall says

    While browsing the comments on this story yesterday, someone brought up the point that it might not be the cafeteria worker who was trying to be mean. It’s more likely their bosses made them fear for their job if they violated policy. The cash register is at the end of the line so the worker would have no knowledge of overdue accounts until after the kid got their food. The worker is just the public face for the real culprits to hide behind.

    Not everything should be run as a business, and this is an example. This is a result of trying to turn everything in to profit centers. Imagine calling the fire department and being put on hold while someone determines your account balance, or going to the hospital and…, wait, that shit already happens. The fucking Ferengi are running this country.

  26. says

    sonofjrblake: Have you ever been a parent? Ever had to fix lunches for your kids, feed them before they head off to school?

    Ever been a child?

    Because I’ll tell you, only a Republican asshole would think that giving them a piece of fruit and a glass of milk would be an adequate meal, let alone gloss over it as “healthy nutrition”. This is very much a privileged Republican asshole position you’re representing: deprive the poor of minimal nutrition, but then claim that because you throw them a crust you’re excused from the charge of starving them.

  27. ledasmom says

    sonofrojblake @ 24:

    Which is why I’m baffled why PZ snipped where he did and went with the “children went hungry” line, giving the impression they were sent away with nothing, when they weren’t.

    Whereas this could have been clearer, if all they got was fruit and milk? They were hungry long before the end of the day.
    To make my own position clearer, feed all the kids for free and feed them as much as they want. That is all.

  28. futurechemist says

    Back when I was in elementary school, the vast majority of students brought their own bagged lunch. I remember that getting to buy lunch was a special occasion (pizza Friday!). Have times changed so that students don’t tend to bring their own lunches anymore?

    That doesn’t make what the school did right at all, but I would have (naively?) thought that had the school chosen to just tell students who hadn’t paid they couldn’t buy lunch anymore, those students would just be bringing in PB&J for a while.

  29. says

    And “criminality”? Taking something away from someone because they haven’t paid for it is “criminality”? I thought taking something you haven’t paid for was the criminal one. Guess I got confused.

    Fuck me. Then all those poor kids who are going to public school and getting an education while their parents pay little in taxes are criminals.

    Jebus, but I fucking hate the hyper-capitalist, knee-jerk attitude that turns shared responsibilities and community obligations into theft.

  30. ck says

    sonofrojblake wrote:

    Which is why I’m baffled why PZ snipped where he did and went with the “children went hungry” line, giving the impression they were sent away with nothing, when they weren’t.

    Going hungry doesn’t necessarily mean eating nothing. Getting insufficient nutrition also fails to remove hunger, and the ~300 calories the children might’ve received from the fruit and milk doesn’t really qualify as a proper, nutritious lunch.

  31. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @ledasmom

    Oh yeah, you’re right. And a can of coke is 330ml, not 30. Clearly I am not awake, and just reading what I want to to read. My bad; sorry!

    Lol I was wondering what sort of measurement “half a cup of fruit” was :) Baking. That explains it.

  32. says

    sonofrojblake:

    Which is why I’m baffled why PZ snipped where he did and went with the “children went hungry” line, giving the impression they were sent away with nothing, when they weren’t.

    Because they *did* go hungry. Going hungry doesn’t have to mean sent away with nothing.
    As others have pointed out.
    Do I have to repeat it for you?
    Milk and a piece of fruit is not a sufficient lunch for children. Stop bending over backwards to justify immoral and unethical behavior.

    I agree with Thumper:

    Over the past couple of weeks or so, I have become steadily more convinced that you are a huge flaming arsehole.

  33. says

    Yeah.. Its really bloody idiotic with “triumph” is defined as, “We only let them burn down one building, not the whole city.”

  34. maryoswell says

    So, we have a toll road that I use infrequently, but regularly as it’s the major road to the airport. One can choose to pay one’s tolls by having a bill sent to them (generated by their license plate number) or one can have a transponder in their car. To have the transponder, one has to open an account with the Toll Road, but you get lower toll fees. Connecting to a credit card, money sits in your account until it is needed. When it drops below a set amount (I think it’s $20), the account adds more money from your credit card in an amount of your choosing. I have mine set to add $40.

    I know that we’re all concerned about our financial information, but for something as regular as paying for your child’s daily lunch, I’d want a system that was far more automated than the one in this instance. My one question about this incident is how many parents paid up their debt versus the bad press the school has received.

  35. ledasmom says

    It is an indication of my current cynical state that I expect somebody to show up to explain that the school was actually either a) fighting obesity or b) helping the kids live longer by restricting their calories.
    Thumper @ 34, believe me, there is nothing so aggravating as a recipe that says “chop four apples”, and there you are looking at your selection of varied apples for pie purposes, which includes Mutsus and Cortlands, which in this particular case are the apple equivalents of Clydesdales and Shetland ponies. The better recipes give an approximate weight of apples.

  36. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @=8)-DX

    Well at least the response from the higher-ups appears to be leading in the right direction.

    @ck

    Yeah, I fucked up on those stats; my apologies. Still, as you say, it’s not an appropriate amount of calories for a growing child.

  37. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @ledasmom #38

    Yeah, I had a similar issue with my sister’s calorie counting. She was trying to tell my mum that an apple is 100 calories. I pointed out that surely that depends on the size of the apple. She didn’t get it. “That’s what the diet book says!”. Ugh.

    Both diet books and recipe books should give a weight.

  38. raven says

    The GOP is rather short sighted here.

    We know income inequality has been increasing for half a century in the USA. We know income inequality highly correlates with political instability, something we saw in the USA with the Tea Party attempted coup d’etat.

    1. The Romans knew how to deal with this. Bread and circuses.

    Today we have cable TV, the internet, marijuana, and food stamps.

    2. The GOP is taking away the bread. Not smart. If it ever comes down to millions of poor, starving people, I wouldn’t want to be them.

  39. jd142 says

    Wait, wait, wait. Back the truck up a second. 11 percent of the kids qualify for free or reduced lunches, and this is not a low income area? I knew things were bad, but I am apparently staggeringly ignorant.

    At what point did only 11% of children needing assistance mean you weren’t a low income area? To qualify for a free meal you must be at 130% of the poverty level, if I’m reading http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/governance/notices/iegs/IEG_Table-032913.pdf correctly, which is 30,000 a year for a family of 4. Reduced price is 185% of poverty or 43,000 for a family of 4. I don’t know how you could keep a family of 4 on 43,000. Let alone 30,000 and less.

    If 10% of the families are that close to our already absurdly low poverty level, that seems pretty high.

    But then I could just be incredibly ignorant. Doesn’t mean I don’t care, and I do give what I can to food banks and shelter houses, but I just didn’t realize the numbers were that abysmal.

  40. says

    I don’t know how close the Indian Reservation is to this elementary school, but a big part of Uintah County is taken up by the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation. Those residents are not rich.

    Vernal, Utah (dinosaur fans know this) is in the eastern part of the county.

    As for all the discussion about milk, “a glass of milk” and calories up-thread, elementary school children are given a small container of milk, not regular size.

    From the Salt Lake Tribune article:

    She [mother of a student] said her daughter told her one of the cafeteria workers cried at the sight. And her daughter’s best friend was so upset that she went home Tuesday night and made lunches for all the students who had theirs taken, she said.

  41. raven says

    Uintah is not in a low-income neighborhood, and only about 11 percents of its students qualify for free or reduced price lunches.

    1. 11% is really low for an elementary school. Where I used to live, the lower middle class elementary school was close to 50%.

    2. The Okie’s school system out in the boonies is 85%. This is a Tea Party/John Birch fundie xian haven on the north coast. They hate the government even though half their income is transfer payments.

    I can’t imagine what would happen if 85% of the kids had someone come in and take away their lunches.

  42. gussnarp says

    But cafeteria workers weren’t able to see which children owed money until they had already received lunches, Olsen explained.

    I call bullshit. What, is the full lunch tray a magic talisman that let’s you see whether they’re paid up? Obviously not. Obviously what really happens is someone enters their information in a computer to see if they’re paid up. Is the problem that you can’t see it without them entering it? I say bullshit again. Some administrator can access that information and deal with the issue appropriately without shaming them in front of other kids. And if they can’t, then their system is broken and should be reprogrammed.

  43. ledasmom says

    A quick google suggests that a standard school-milk serving is 8 ounces, which is equal to one standard cup of eight fluid ounces. However, that is considerably smaller than a glass of the type one might pour milk into at home. For comparison purposes, eight ounces on our REI camping mug/measuring cup from probably a couple decades back is two inches below the rim, making it a very scant mugful, and slightly higher than that on a ceramic freebie mug from probably about the same time period – still a scant mugful.

  44. says

    In the Morridor, teaching lessons through punishment and humiliation is all too common. Utah is the ultimate family values state after all. Everyone must conform. Just look up “Mormon Gulag” some time.

    In all of Utah you will find an unusually high percentage of mormons in positions of power. Even in counties where the the mormon population is not 80-90 percent, positions of power are held by mormons. Uintah County residents are 86.8% mormon (LDS). http://www.city-data.com/county/religion/Uintah-County-UT.html

    Many teachers and school administrators are graduates of BYU. They are pretty much allowed to set their own disciplinary guidelines:

    In Utah, the responsibility to create and enforce a public school disciplinary policy falls upon each local school district. Utah Code Ann. 53A-11-901. The statute provides that “each local school board . . . shall adopt conduct and discipline policies for the public schools.” In addition, “[t]he local superintendent . . . shall enforce the policies so that students demonstrating unacceptable behavior and their parents or guardians understand that such behavior . . . will be dealt with in accordance with the district’s conduct and discipline policies.” The state superintendent is required to provide model disciplinary policies, which local districts may follow in developing their own

    http://www.hendersonlaw.org/schooldiscipline.html

  45. raven says

    I don’t know how close the Indian Reservation is to this elementary school,

    Uintah elementary is just the name of the school.

    It’s in southeast SLC county, somewhere between SLC and Provo. IIRC, this is one of the Mormon monoculture suburbs.

    1. Well at least this is a teaching moment. The kids just learned that being an adult is overrated. You can be an adult and still do cosmically stupid things. They would have found out anyway, sooner or later.

  46. alwayscurious says

    We had a simple system when I was growing up: meal tickets were purchased (or simply given to kids on free lunch) and if you didn’t have one for whatever reason, you went to the office wherein they would give you a meal ticket. Separately, the office would settle it with the parents and know one needed to be the wiser–some kids just chronically “lost” meal tickets and went to the office regularly prior to eating. By end of lunch: everyone got a full meal. In middle school & high school, you could volunteer to help in the cafeteria for free/reduced lunch should the already existing systems be inadequate. You couldn’t get lunch ala carte, but at least you got a full sized meal & drink. Either Uintah’s got a senseless cafeteria workers or has some unimaginatively cold administrators.

  47. jefferylanam says

    This was a terribly stupid thing to do, and it sounds like something a Republican would do, but this particular school is in a district that votes heavily Democratic. That doesn’t mean any of the school administrators involved are of one party or another, just don’t jump to conclusions.

  48. says

    Some of the national coverage:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/01/30/268964470/utah-school-draws-ire-for-taking-kids-lunches-debt-cited

    http://www.pressherald.com/news/School_throws_away_lunches_of_students_.html

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/school-lunches-taken-from-elementary-students-over-negative-accounts-in-salt-lake-city-utah/

    Utah fails the nutrition test in other ways.

    Utah is last in the country — again — in providing breakfast at school to impoverished children, according to a new report that says the morning meal boosts learning and overall student health.

    One in four Utah children live in households deemed “food insecure,” said Gina Cornia, executive director of Utahns Against Hunger. About 36 percent of students in Utah schools qualify for free or reduced lunch.

    But of that low-income group only a third get breakfast at school, according to the report from the Washington, D.C.-based Food Research and Action Center. In the 2012-2013 school year, that was equivalent to about 73,000 students. Utah also was last during the previous academic year.

    But a spokesman for the Utah Office of Education says that school officials are working to expand the program. The state cannot dictate to local school districts how they implement the programs that are underwritten by the federal government, said Matt Anderson.[…]

    The State cannot dictate? Why not?

  49. raven says

    In all of Utah you will find an unusually high percentage of mormons in positions of power.

    True. Even in SLC which is majority nonMormon, the Mormons dominate the school systems.

    Which means, nonMormons send their kids to private schools invariably, if they can afford it. Even the atheists send their kids to religious private schools. An atheist in a Catholic school is a lot better off than one in the public (Mormon) schools.

    It’s not just self segregation. I’m told nonMormon kids in the public schools get bullied and discriminated against quite severely by the Mormon kids. It’s not unusual for Mormon parents to forbid their kids from associating with gentile kids.

  50. says

    Following up, this incident was not the only time that food was taken away from children in Utah schools:

    […] Former district lunch worker Pam Gomez said public seizures in Salt Lake City schools have been done routinely on a smaller scale.

    “The kitchen managers are aghast every time they have to do that,” said Gomez, who retired two years ago after working in the district for seven years. “You have children crying. You know they get embarrassed because it happens in front of everybody.”

    She added, “It’s sad for those kids, but at least now the policy is out in the open.” […]

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/57472249-78/district-lunch-lunches-students.html.csp

  51. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    It just seemed to me disingenuous to cut the quote of where you did, then explicitly say the children “went hungry”, which wasn’t true.

    Dumbfuck, have you ever tried going through the day on a glass of milk and a piece of fruit? I guaranfuckingtee you the children did indeed “go hungry.”

  52. thrackerzog says

    This whole situation is a shitstorm all around, but I’m really sick of how it’s being reported. I know anything dealing with kids is a really emotional issue and I wouldn’t have worked in child nutrition for over 10 years if I didn’t think that no children should go hungry, but there is some context to this story that is being underreported or ignored.

    This school has a 10% free/reduced price rate, the second lowest in the district. That means that 90% of the kids in the school by federal guidelines have to pay ‘full price’ for meals. The average F/RP percentage for the district is 59% and for the state is 37%. This is not an impoverished area full of parents who can’t feed their kids. By comparison it’s down-right affluent.

    Any child who qualified for free meals (the actually needy kids) were fed a full meal. There is a chance that some of the kids who qualify for reduced-price meals had there lunch taken away if their parents allowed their accounts to go into the red (more on this in a bit)

    Even ‘full price’ meals are served at below cost. The meals are subsidized by the federal government and Utah State liquor taxes. Salt Lake school district currently charges $2 for a ‘full price’ lunch.

    Utah has the lowest per-pupil spending of any state in the nation. Public schools are chronically underfunded and the nutrition programs are no exception.

    These kids’ lunch accounts were already in the red, meaning that the school district had already been giving this kids meals without them paying. In one interview a parent said they were $10 over, that’s a week’s worth of meals. And they expected to get more meals without paying. How many days in a row is an underfunded school district expected to give the children of parents (who can afford to pay for them) free meals with the promise that they’ll pay, eventually, you know, whenever.

    Public school districts are not in the business of giving lazy parents interest free loans for their kids’ meals on the public dime. It sucks when you don’t have time to pack a lunch or forget your lunch money. It sucks even worse the second day in a row when you do it. But the day after that? And the day after that? When does it stop being the schools problem and become the parent’s problem?

    This is not ‘Mormon’ politics or ‘Republican’ politics. This is standard operating procedure for public school districts across the country. This is blowing up because a bunch of lazy, entitled, upper-class parents are upset that the free ride they were getting got cut off and they actually have to be responsible and give their kids $2 for lunch every day. These same parents are now threatening the livelihood of school district employees who were doing their jobs by not allowing these parents to take advantage of the school AND they are threatening a program that primarily benefits needy kids because they couldn’t be bothered to read their mail.It sickens me.

    A few more things:
    “Why was the food thrown out” The same reason when you go to lunch and don’t eat the soup that came with your meal they don’t just dump it back in the pot. Once it is served it can’t be given to someone else. Also if these parents are complaining that they only got a week worth of meals on credit imagine the outcry when they find out their kid was served someone else’s food. “You served my kid some other kid’s food and he got sick I’m suing” etc.

    “The food was already served. Why didn’t they just let the kid have it” They did. For a week straight. How much longer should it have gone on? How much debt does the school have to be in before it’s okay to actually force the parents to pay for their kids’ meals.

    “They shouldn’t have just dumped it out in front of the kid” You’re right, that was shitty and embarrassing. I taked to a parent from a neighboring school district, they said when they forget to give their son money and their food is taken away (remember, this is actually pretty standard) they set the tray aside and then take it away throw away the food after lunch or in the kitchen. I personally don’t think it’s worth anyone losing their jobs over, obviously some people do.

    “Fruit and milk isn’t a whole meal” Yeah, it sucks when your parent doesn’t give you any lunch money. I remember when I was in grade school and I forgot my lunch I was lucky to get crackers and peanut butter if my teacher happened to bring some in that she paid for with her own money.

    “Why didn’t they check the kid’s balances before lunch” If anything, this is probably what is going to change. The standard point of sale procedure is that the kids go through the cafeteria line, pick out what they want, and then pay for what they picked. This allows for a variety of choices for the kids and allows the cafeteria staff the verify that the meal meets the federal guideline for reimbursement. There are point of sale exceptions, but they will require time and money to implement (your tax dollars at work) Other schools and districts will also implement these changes, just so they don’t get in the news also.

    “All kids in public schools should be given a full free meal every day” Yes. Wonderful. That would be great. But that would require a congress that can pass a farm bill without shitting on SNAP recipients and parents who think $2 is too much to bother with voting on tax increases for public education. Saying ‘well, there should be a huge policy shift’ is a whole ‘nother discussion.

  53. alwayscurious says

    I call bullshit. What, is the full lunch tray a magic talisman that let’s you see whether they’re paid up? Obviously not. Obviously what really happens is someone enters their information in a computer to see if they’re paid up. Is the problem that you can’t see it without them entering it? I say bullshit again. Some administrator can access that information and deal with the issue appropriately without shaming them in front of other kids. And if they can’t, then their system is broken and should be reprogrammed.

    And that’s why I think it’s primarily the cafeteria worker’s fault. I can completely understand why the account balances wouldn’t be available for the cashier to pull up on command for just anyone they felt like. In this case, the administrators would remain in control of who had what balance & they would decide how to handle it. The fact that it comes up at purchase time might be an oversight or was designed to serve one purpose: reminding the student at the time of purchase what their balance was. In effect, preventing someone from maliciously denying food to kids below balance prior to receiving lunch (or why would it allow a negative to start with?). It also wouldn’t surprise me if the system won’t show the cashier HOW MUCH was owed, but instead simply said something like “negative account balance” or “low account balance”. If it’s a debit card type system, then how would the worker know in advance that someone wouldn’t have money for food? A busy line would prevent even a skilled cashier from looking ahead and pre-validating accounts for the kids in it.

  54. alwayscurious says

    ***Sorry, just noticed again upon rereading that it specifically said this was the nutrition manager for the school district doing this little bit of nasty and that I missed a key: NOT in front of the cafeteria worker’s fault*****

  55. says

    “My wife and I were shocked and talking about it yesterday when my kids turned to us and said, ’They’ve done this for a long time,’” he said.

    Over the years Kirkham’s twin 17-year-old boys have seen lunch taken from students in Provo School District’s elementary and secondary schools.

    (Link in comment #53.)

    For the record, the cafeteria manager at the school had NOTHING to do with the decision of what transpired. This was the School District decision. The other question in my mind is, where was the Principal when children were being denied food at her school ?

    Yeah, they fired the cafeteria manager, but no one else so far.

    This is simply an example of the dominant political philosophy in Utah. There are rules. When rules are broken, the order of the universe is disrupted. That disruption must be cured. So whether it’s kids’ lunches or unemployment assistance or Medicaid services or whatever, if you don’t deserve it (as defined by those in power) then you don’t get it. The people who administer the lunch policy are probably genuinely perplexed as to what the uproar is about.

  56. says

    Utah’s cafeteria workers are not allowed to belong to a union, as I understand it. They do not have much recourse if/when they are required to do things with which they disagree.

    The bosses would be more receptive to change if the workers were unionized. As it is, all of the cafeteria workers are afraid of losing their jobs.

  57. says

    Raven @48:

    Uintah elementary is just the name of the school.

    Thank you for the correction — so, not in Uintah County. I should have been more careful, should have done more research. Thanks again.

  58. lopsided says

    I remember when America was viewed as the land of opportunity & liberty, where the future course of humanity lay waiting.

    And that always bullshit propaganda. Only difference is more people realize it.

  59. chigau (違う) says

    I wonder if the ChildNutritionWorkers™ have considered soylent green as a solution.

  60. David Marjanović says

    Vernal, Utah (dinosaur fans know this) is in the eastern part of the county.

    To be honest, I have no idea of the counties of Utah. I’m pretty sure Uinta-without-h is in Utah (so it may or may not be anywhere near Uintah), and I think I knew the name Vernal, but that’s it.

    1. 11% is really low for an elementary school. Where I used to live, the lower middle class elementary school was close to 50%.

    2. The Okie’s school system out in the boonies is 85%.

    This boggles the mind!

    Well at least this is a teaching moment. The kids just learned that being an adult is overrated. You can be an adult and still do cosmically stupid things.

    Bingo.

    These kids’ lunch accounts were already in the red, meaning that the school district had already been giving this kids meals without them paying. In one interview a parent said they were $10 over, that’s a week’s worth of meals. And they expected to get more meals without paying. How many days in a row is an underfunded school district expected to give the children of parents (who can afford to pay for them) free meals with the promise that they’ll pay, eventually, you know, whenever.

    So why punish the children for it?

    Public school districts are not in the business of giving lazy parents interest free loans for their kids’ meals on the public dime. It sucks when you don’t have time to pack a lunch or forget your lunch money. It sucks even worse the second day in a row when you do it. But the day after that? And the day after that? When does it stop being the schools problem and become the parent’s problem?

    When does it become the kids’ problem!?!

    “Why was the food thrown out” The same reason when you go to lunch and don’t eat the soup that came with your meal they don’t just dump it back in the pot. Once it is served it can’t be given to someone else.

    In this particular case this is just Honor Before Reason, obeying the letter of the rule without thinking about it the least bit. The meals were untouched, and the cafeteria workers saw it. Give the meal to the next kid in the line at least!

  61. David Marjanović says

    Utah’s cafeteria workers are not allowed to belong to a union, as I understand it.

    …which… is… just…

  62. carlie says

    thrackerzog: the problem is that schools aren’t supposed to be a business. They’re not supposed to run on a profit model. They’re supposed to be a service that is provided to the benefit of the community, and their primary mission isn’t supposed to be to meet budget, but to do what is needed to serve the students. Working out what that means for the budget is the job of the school board and local politicians. Even under a business model, however, it appears in this case that the problem was that there was a new system instituted for paying for school lunches and it was faulty, with some parents being shown as in the red when they weren’t, and parents who were in debt not being informed of it. So when you have a new system, and suddenly lots of students are showing up as in arrears (40 as opposed to a usual 1-3), would you immediately assume that the parents are derelict, or that the system might have some glitches to work out? And would you then assume that the best way to deal with it would be to go to the people who actually pay the bills (the parents), or go after the students? And go after the students by means of giving them notes to send home, or by calling them down to the office and making them phone home about it, or by doing it in the most humiliating way possible that also ensures that they will be a wreck the rest of the day and not learn anything else?

  63. says

    The way this story has been presented (both in local & national media) is a mixture of ignorant and disingenuous. It is driving me up the wall. I’ve been talking about it since Wednesday night (as has my spouse who helps run the federal child nutrition program on the state level) because I am angry about the harm being caused by how it’s being talked about.

    Before I get into the specifics of what’s going on with this specific school & what happened Tuesday and why, I’ll cover some basics of what we should be pushing for at a FEDERAL level because this issue is not something that can be resolved at the local, district or state level. If you are going to be angry, be angry at the United States Congress.

    The funding for these meals is covered by the national school lunch program. That program is meant to help needy kids get fed. That parents paying the full cost of *incredibly* subsidized meals benefit by getting nutritious meals for their kids at well below cost is a nice side benefit.

    I support making school lunches free to everyone. This is exclusively a federal issue that requires the US Congress to increase the budget for the child nutrition program quite a lot. So if you want that, talk about federal politics and stop talking about local Utah folks who can do nothing about it.

    The bar for free lunches is far too low. So is the federal poverty line. Let’s fix that. Let’s rage at politicians who are content or apathetic to poverty and starvation. This is also not a district issue or state.

    The bar for reduced prices lunches is also lower than I’d like, but it is by no means as fucked up as the poverty line. I had reduced price meals growing up and we were not impoverished.

    The school participation in school breakfast is way too low and we need to push for incentives to improve it. It may not make much difference to upper/middle class students, but it’s extremely important for hungry kids.

    Students of parents on food stamps or other types of assistance qualify for free meals automatically through direct certification processes. Schools & districts also work very hard to ensure parents know they can qualify for benefits under this program. Federal law actually penalizes the states with participation rates that don’t closely match census poverty rates, which causes a real problem when you have a measurable population of anti-government home-schooled students like Utah.

    I will not accept arguments that school districts in Utah (and elsewhere) just have to eat the cost of floating free meals to full-price students for weeks at a time. We have incredibly low per-pupil spending, a mix of having lots of babies (our demographics are skewed bizarrely young) and eternally electing asshole Republicans.

    This school is not in area that frequently elects Republicans. In fact, it’s part of the little island of Salt Lake that actually elects Democrats. They are disproportionately Mormon, but so are the officials in Salt Lake that are working to end homelessness in by giving people apartments no strings attached.

    All free priced students obviously ate and suffered no disruption. These students are the ones who most need this program because they are at greater risk of having poor nutrition outside of school. Like all other schools, the number of free meals served is much higher than reduced price meals.

    Utah’s per meal cost is kept incredibly low. We are far below the national average and there are number of reasons for this. All child nutrition programs (daycares, schools, summer food sites, etc) are managed through a central office that strives toward incredible efficiency. For years the state won awards for how tightly the program was run. When the majority of states had to let specific grants go because they couldn’t find a way to allocate all the funds according to regulation, Utah was able to take advantage of every single dollar. We also direct a notable chunk of the state’s liquor tax toward schools as a per-meals served reimbursement on top of the federal program. Utah may be fucked up politically, but the people in charge of feeding Utah’s kids are incredibly dedicated. I am deeply insulted by how this has been talked about.

    The reduce price meals are incredibly inexpensive in this district. The rates reduced price parents pay are never published, but we are talking about per meal costs in cents here. Because of this & rate of reduced price students, I am very doubtful that reduced price students suffered interruption in their meal service.

    The full price cost of meals in this district are not currently published that I know of, but it is also an incredibly low cost. As thrackerzog (my spouse) says @55, these are parents who are angry they couldn’t keep going after getting a week of incredibly cheap meals.

    Now some specifics about this school’s incident that are making me frustrated and increasingly angry. Thrackerzog has already covered most of them, but when I see people like alwayscurious (56) and gussnarp (45) claiming this is a problem with the cafeteria workers, I get upset. It seems to come down to a fundamental confusion about how meals need to be served in order for that school district to get reimbursed for that healthy meal.

    New and quite stringent changes (imagine catching up on a decade of dietary reforms all at once) went into effect last August. You can’t ring up kids ahead of time in terms of making sure the school can get the reimbursement money to keep the program up and running without first observing the meal the kid has had served up. If it meets USDA dietary guidelines, it can be processed that as reimbursable, if not not the school just absorbs costs back into the program. THAT is why the meals are served first.

    The only useful suggestion I have seen is flagging students deeply in arrears prior to them getting to the lunchroom to avoid humiliation. However I suspect practices to keep anyone from knowing who receives free or reduced meals makes this kind of screening discouraged or taboo.

    You want to know what kind of harm this is doing to the people who work at the school feeding kids? The cafeteria manager has already been placed on leave in the middle of an investigation where state lawmakers are calling for them to be fired for following a district policy that I will bet is standard procedure across the country. That’s harm you’re doing and it’s fucking bullshit. It’s a cheap shot at people who are powerless while you do nothing to lobby for change on a federal level that would actually help. So yeah, I think you’re being assholes and I’m pissed.

    It would be one thing if people were asking for change in district polices to ensure kids whose parents send them to school without lunches or the means to buy those lunches for a week aren’t humiliated, but don’t you dare say they should just be served free meals unless you have a concrete suggestion for where that money comes from. Otherwise you’re just kicking a school district that can’t do anything else and I hate you.

    To address the question of affluence, yes this school is filled with economically privileged parents. That’s why they’re outraged and it’s why this story got traction in the press. If it was a mostly latin@ school in fucking West Valley or Rose Park, I almost guarantee it would have been ignored by press and politicians shitting on lunch ladies.

    The 2010 median household income for this zipcode is $60,303. This school is not in Uintah County (although I can understand Lynna’s confusion at (43)), but is on the eastside of Salt Lake City. It is NOT poor. These are not poor parents causing a fuss.

    Saying as jd12 did at (42) that 11% of students being free or reduced indicating a low income area is incredibly ignorant & mistaken. There are many schools (whose data is actually fudged to protect student privacy under federal law) that are 100% free. What’s more, guardians of students can apply or re-apply at any time & don’t have to report the change if their income increases. Students can get free or reduced meals based on the income of a divorced parent who does not live in that area. In addition, children in foster care are given extra support under the program. 11% is a low number of free and reduced meals for a participating school on the program.

    Also, this is not 11% “needing assistance. “ Reduced price meals go to parents who are not wealthy, but are certainly not starving. I had reduced priced meals growing up and while our finances were tight, we were not poor or remotely close to poverty. This argument is made in ignorance.

    If you’re bothered by this, please help and fight for this funding when you fight for SNAP benefits, unemployment insurance & wage increases. But stop hurting local schools and their employees because it’s crap.

  64. says

    Carlie (66) schools on the national school lunch program are prohibited from making a profit or even increasing the cost of paid lunches to offset any program costs.

  65. thrackerzog says

    I guess when I see already under funded public school being taken advantage of I get angry.
    And when those schools are then demonized for trying to keep afloat and not constantly be in debt I get really angry.
    It sucks what happened to those kids, but it is their parents’ fault. But why have personal accountability when you can blame the big bad government.

  66. says

    To Daz & everyone else making this argument:

    Thou shalt punish the children for the sins of the parents.

    First, fuck you, that’s not what he’s saying.

    Second, we want everyone to eat free no matter what. I dream of a system that’s just funded and paid for. But what specific thing do you expect these local schools to do when affluent parents expect to be allowed to sap school district resources (which we & they futilely fight to expand to no effect) on interest free loans?

    Tell us exactly what you want them to do and how it’s going to be paid for. Because they’re as powerless as these kids are to change what their parents are putting them through.

  67. thrackerzog says

    And if you don’t see parents who can otherwise easily pay for their kids’ meals NOT paying for days or weeks on end while the school still has to buy food, pay for the facilities, pay food service staff to cook and clean (all with tax dollars) as taking advantage of the school, then I guess we just have a fundamental difference in opinion.

  68. says

    These kids’ parents could actually pay their bills when reminders go home in the mail.

    These kids’ parents could decide to send their kids to work with bagged lunches instead of expecting free lunches forever.

    I’m sorry that children pay for mistakes their parents make in this world. It would be great if we as a society recognized the rights children have to proper medical care, and housing, and food and education & being free from indoctrination. But kids are treated as property in our society and you’re not telling us what you want to do to change that, you just support rich asshole parents angry that not paying bills has consequences that affect their kids.

    Feeding your children (especially when you fucking have money) is your responsibility. Schools do their best when it’s the occasional forgetful mistake, but when it goes on for a week, that stops being something the school has the resources to solve.

  69. says

    Thou shalt punish the children for the sins of the parents.

    First, fuck you, that’s not what he’s saying.

    Yes, it is. When someone—almost literally—takes the food out of the mouths of children, because the parents haven’t paid, that is not an exercise in personal accountability. It is making the children accountable for something which the parents have done.

  70. Onamission5 says

    Last I heard, 67% of the students in our city district fell somewhere along the spectrum of qualifying for the meals program– most in the reduced category, not free. This was brought up when some parents in the district were pressing, hard, to implement a school uniform policy (mostly because they thought it would be cute and were of the opinion that uniforms make kids color and class blind) and our school principal put them to the question of where is the money to pay for this supposed to fucking come from when we just lost 14 staff district wide due to budget cuts and 67% of our students get subsidized meals? Anyway. Tangent.

    It doesn’t save the school any money to take lunches from children then throw those lunches in the trash. If the kids were served by mistake, let them eat their fucking lunch and send a notice home, this is not difficult. The district I am in, policy is to send a notice home the moment a child’s account becomes overdrawn by even a few pennies, then keep serving a full lunch until the account hits a negative balance of $5. Once that balance is hit the kid gets a cheese sandwich and an apple because state law bars schools from withholding meals even in the event that the parents are too broke or “lazy” to pay up.

    Some things to remember:

    *Not every qualifying family who could get reduced or free meals applies for those meals. There is headfuckery regarding bootstraps and poverty in the US which keeps people from asking for help even when they desperately need it. Because pride, because self-reliance, because leeches.

    *The income limits to qualify for the meals program are ridiculously low, and food programs are some of the first on the chopping block when budget cuts come around. Therefore it is entirely conceivable that a family would not qualify for food assistance while also not being able to afford regular meals.

    *People can have more than one child in school at a time! $2 a day doesn’t seem like a lot but $20, $30, $40 a week is more than many families with multiple children can afford. See: discouragement from applying for food programs, applying but not qualifying due to unrealistic limits and cuts.

  71. David Marjanović says

    It sucks what happened to those kids, but it is their parents’ fault. But why have personal accountability when you can blame the big bad government.

    How does punishing the children (let alone in the most ridiculous movie-villain way, complete with the mockery substitute “lunch”) hold the parents accountable?

    First, fuck you, that’s not what he’s saying.

    Uh, it is what he’s saying. If it’s not what you meant to say, thrackerzog, please explain.

  72. zenlike says

    70, thrackerzog

    It sucks what happened to those kids, but it is their parents’ fault. But why have personal accountability when you can blame the big bad government.

    How is punishing kids holding their parents responsible? Do you even understand what the ‘personal’ in ‘personal accountability’ means?

  73. brianpansky says

    It doesn’t save the school any money to take lunches from children then throw those lunches in the trash

    ah, see, here is the thing.

    if people get meals when they don’t pay, then what happens? supposedly, other people will decide not to pay as well. if that is true, the net effect is that more money will be lost as a result of the charity.

    it’s a very capitalist libertarian fear, that society can only have nice things if you threaten the weapon of starvation against people to motivate them.

  74. Onamission5 says

    It is entirely possible to be pissed as hell at the way school budgets are decided upon in the US and work to change that while also not wanting children to go hungry regardless of the reason. No child should be deprived a lunch because their parents are perceived as lazy, no matter how much or how little those parents make, because the supreme fuckups of the parents are not the child’s responsibility to bear. We’re not talking library fines here. We’re talking about little kids who have no control over and no say about the actions of their parents being deprived of a full belly by other adults as a punitive action against their parents. Kids as chess pieces instead of kids as people. The school staff does not have the right to punish parents via the suffering and embarrassment of their children.

  75. says

    Daz

    Yes, it is. When someone—almost literally—takes the food out of the mouths of children, because the parents haven’t paid, that is not an exercise in personal accountability. It is making the children accountable for something which the parents have done.

    and chigau

    Bless your heart.

    CONCRETE SUGGESTIONS NOW.

    Otherwise I will dismiss you as self-righteous cardboard cutout caricatures of compassionate human beings.

    thrackerzog has spent over a decade of his fucking working career trying to make this program run as far and as well as he possibly can while his office lobbies for more funding. Explain exactly what you want him and the local schools to do.

    NOW.

  76. brianpansky says

    *eh i’m not sure who all has that fear. could be more people than libertarians i guess.

  77. Amphiox says

    These kids’ lunch accounts were already in the red, meaning that the school district had already been giving this kids meals without them paying. In one interview a parent said they were $10 over, that’s a week’s worth of meals. And they expected to get more meals without paying. How many days in a row is an underfunded school district expected to give the children of parents (who can afford to pay for them) free meals with the promise that they’ll pay, eventually, you know, whenever.

    This does not, and nor does anything else you’ve said, in any way justify taking lunch away from children AFTER they’d already been given it.

    Send the parents a warning letter, and refuse to give the children the lunch the next day until payment is received. Harsh for certain, but at least that has a semblance of humanity.

    Or even send a freaking credit collector after those parents if you want, since this is apparently an affluent neighborhood and those parents apparently, according to you, could pay. It was $10 for a week’s worth of lunches. In an entire school year that’s a couple hundred, less than what someone might be paying for cable TV. Plenty of time to collect the credit in the summer.

    Since the food was thrown away, no money was saved, and the ONLY thing accomplished was the humiliation of innocent children.

    If it was a mistake to give out the lunches in the first place, since the intent had been to withhold them, so be it, punish the adult responsible for that mistake and correct it NEXT time.

    So, for your question of “how many days”?

    In this case, AT LEAST ONE.

  78. says

    Hey everyone wondering why it saves money to take away meals already served? brianpansky at (81) is on the right track.

    If there is no penalty to never paying your meal bill, there is no reason why parents who can afford to pay won’t continue to suck the districts dry. It makes me so furious at these parents for what they’ve done to their children that I want to weep with rage, but if you refuse to pay bills, services get cut off. And that will hurt your family.

    What’s more, schools here in Utah have reported to the state office that getting parents to pay for meals already served is incredibly difficult, like pulling teech.

  79. Onamission5 says

    You don’t deliberately starve the children whose care you are charged with because of character flaws you perceive their parents to have. How is this something people are willing to defend?

  80. Amphiox says

    CONCRETE SUGGESTIONS NOW.

    First, if you’ve already given the children their lunch, you LET THEM EAT IT. Then see my last post.

  81. thrackerzog says

    I am pissed off that the federal poverty guidelines are not set higher so that more people who actually need it can get free or reduced price lunches for their kids.

    I am pissed off that the school district does not have enough money in their budget to give meals on credit, no matter the circumstance.

    But, since those things are not true.

    I am pissed off that some parents feel entitled to special treatment and that the rules don’t apply to them and are taking it out on public employees whom they put in an impossible situation and raising false concerns over a program that is extremely beneficial, especially low income children.

    School districts can not afford to give out free school meals to those who do not qualify for them forever. It eventually has to stop.

  82. says

    slignot #83

    CONCRETE SUGGESTIONS NOW.

    (No need to shout. I read just as well in sentence-case as in upper.)

    Regarding the case in the OP. Okay, what you don’t do is publicly humiliate the children and leave them hungry. You don’t make “a show” by throwing away perfectly good food, just to make your point, when your point is that you can’t afford to waste food or have it go unpaid-for.

    My suggestion? Send a note to the parents stating that they will have to provide packed lunches for their children in future, unless they pay their bill.

    Long term? Make feeding children under their care part of the job of schools. Include it in the education budget, and make all school-meals “free.”

  83. Amphiox says

    If there is no penalty to never paying your meal bill, there is no reason why parents who can afford to pay won’t continue to suck the districts dry. It makes me so furious at these parents for what they’ve done to their children that I want to weep with rage, but if you refuse to pay bills, services get cut off. And that will hurt your family.

    This is, frankly, about the stupidest, and immoral, thing you’ve yet said.

    Taking away food already given to the children (who are not the ones who are owing the money) is not a “penalty”. It’s CHILD ABUSE.

    Give WARNING to the parents and then withhold the next lunch, BEFORE THE FACT, until payment is made.

    Wait until summer and then send a credit collector after the parents for the full several hundred dollar bill owing.

    Send the freaking credit collector now, for $10, if you prefer.

    Sue the parents.

    So many other options that don’t involve child abuse….

    Even among adults, it is not appropriate, or even legal in most jurisdictions, to cut off someone’s heating, or electricity, or evict them from their apartments, or take away any other service essential to life, without AT LEAST A NOTE OF WARNING with a date given for the withdrawal of service.

  84. says

    First, if you’ve already given the children their lunch, you LET THEM EAT IT. Then see my last post.

    Amphiox, as it happens, districts are currently working to figure out best policies how to flag delinquent parent accounts so meals are not served beforehand.

    However, you are aware why those meals were served before payment in the first place? (from 68)

    You can’t ring up kids ahead of time in terms of making sure the school can get the reimbursement money to keep the program up and running without first observing the meal the kid has had served up. If it meets USDA dietary guidelines, it can be processed that as reimbursable, if not not the school just absorbs costs back into the program. THAT is why the meals are served first.

    The only useful suggestion I have seen is flagging students deeply in arrears prior to them getting to the lunchroom to avoid humiliation. However I suspect practices to keep anyone from knowing who receives free or reduced meals makes this kind of screening discouraged or taboo.

    So it appears the school districts, thrackerzog:

    “They shouldn’t have just dumped it out in front of the kid” You’re right, that was shitty and embarrassing.

    and you are all in agreement to prevent meals from being served once a cutoff point has been reached. That’s getting changed.

    That still means schools are forced to let kids go hungry on milk & fruit once their parents hit a substantial number of unpaid meals served.

    Send the parents a warning letter, and refuse to give the children the lunch the next day until payment is received. Harsh for certain, but at least that has a semblance of humanity.

    Warning letters did go out. The parent interviewed who’d gotten a week of free meals said he didn’t pay attention to the warning note that went home.

    even send a freaking credit collector after those parents if you want, since this is apparently an affluent neighborhood and those parents apparently, according to you, could pay. It was $10 for a week’s worth of lunches. In an entire school year that’s a couple hundred, less than what someone might be paying for cable TV. Plenty of time to collect the credit in the summer.

    This is what we should be staffing & spending money on in a district struggling with basics? These districts have tried to get parents to pay debts (short of collections for thousands of small balances) and it doesn’t work. A week here and there for parents at every school in district adds up fast.

    Seriously, I just wish we could get a conversation going about increasing federal funding to solve this problem altogether, but I’m seeing so much blame of how local people are dealing with a systemic problem they didn’t create. Even advocacy groups like Utahns Against Hunger are calling for these employee’s jobs instead of highlighting this as a problem to be fixed in taxation & budgets.

  85. carlie says

    I will not accept arguments that school districts in Utah (and elsewhere) just have to eat the cost of floating free meals to full-price students for weeks at a time.

    I don’t see anyone arguing that at all. The argument that I’m making, and that other people are making, is that the way that this district decided to deal with the problem in this instance is just about the most inhumane and ineffective way possible. There are so many structural ways to deal with it that don’t involve walking up to a kid who has a lunch tray and taking it away from them in front of everyone in the room.

  86. thrackerzog says

    Notes were sent home. Some parents say they got them, some said they didn’t. Some parents were a week behind. That means their kid went through the line 5 times and got a meal without paying. I can guarantee every time the kid went through the like the school staff told them they were out of money and to tell their parents.

    The only staff allowed to know a child’s account status are the food service staff. I guess they could have sent a note to teachers before lunch to tell certain students that they couldn’t get a lunch that day, but I think that it is against guidelines. They could check students before allowing them to get into line, but that slows everything down for all the students who are getting a lunch. Also, if were are concerned about punishing and embarrassing the kids, saying “You can go, you can go, not you, you can go” isn’t a lot better.

    Lots of little decisions led up to this situation, the configuration of the cafeteria, the school’s policy on delinquent payments, the school’s notification policy, the parents decision to not keep up with their kid’s lunch account, the legislature’s public education budget. It sucks. It also sucks when the power company has to turn off someone’s power. Or the water company, or the gas company.

  87. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @slignot

    Jesus, I wrote out a whole thing with loads of quotes and you know what? It’s just not worth it. there are too many examples of stupidity and callousness in your posts to go through each of them individually. So I’ll just respond to your request.

    You want a concrete suggestion? Give everyone free school meals. If you’re about to whine about how the country can possibly afford that, cut some of your ludicrous defence budget. Ta-da! But of course, that would require sane people to be in charge of America. Sane people who are willing to ignore the apparently large proportion of arseholes among the populace who would kick up a fuss about an evidently moral decision.

    The fact of the matter is that what was done to those kids was, by any sensible definition, child abuse. If a parent did it, they’d be up in front of a judge. This situation could have and should have been fixed without depriving already deprived children of a square meal.

  88. carlie says

    For the record, I agree that parents who are not paying (but who can) should be made to pay. I’m fine with the kid not being able to buy lunch. The thing I disagree with is humiliating the kid like that; flowing from that is that I disagree with cutting it off without warning to the child.
    Parents might ignore a statement, but I bet the kid wouldn’t. Send the kid a note in homeroom addressed to them to take home that says “Starting Monday, you will not be allowed to buy food in the cafeteria unless x amount is paid”. That lets them know the consequence, gives them time to plan for it (because you can’t always go out and buy lunch food that same night), and lets the kid know to not try to go in the lunch line even if their parent doesn’t pay up.
    What people are responding to with such vehemence is that it was just so cruelly done.

  89. carlie says

    Notes were sent home. Some parents say they got them, some said they didn’t. Some parents were a week behind.,

    That may be one of those lacunae where we don’t have sufficient information. What did the notes say? When I get those notes, it just says “Your child’s account is at $-3.75. Please pay as soon as possible.” To be honest, that isn’t much of a motivator. Yes, the only ethical thing to do is to pay it right away, but it’s not worded in such a way to make it seem that it’s that important from their perspective either. If I get that note a few days before payday, I’m going to wait until payday when I’m taking care of other bills, and at that point the total time from account going negative to note coming home to my sending it to school could well be a week or more. If my kid doesn’t buy lunch every day, we might forget and that adds a few days more. If they are that concerned about prompt payment, the notes need to say “You have to deposit x amount by y date or your child will no longer be allowed to get a school lunch starting on z.” I have not seen anywhere where it says what the notes conveyed and how.

  90. allegro says

    Sounds as though an auto-deduct system could be set up. Families that have neither credit card or debit cards probably qualify for full subsidy so that shouldn’t present a problem. Families who want their children to purchase the school lunches agree to the auto-deduct before the school year begins – if there are insufficient funds in their accounts the banks can deal with the collection. If kids only occasionally purchase lunches a cash option should be provided. Under NO circumstances should this type of abuse ever happen. It is indefensible.

  91. daniellavine says

    slignot@92:

    This is what we should be staffing & spending money on in a district struggling with basics?

    OMG YES!

    1. It isn’t the child’s fault that the parent is delinquent in the payment.
    2. If kids don’t eat enough they can’t pay attention in school. If kids routinely don’t eat enough — if, for example, their parents are too poor to afford to keep up with their school lunches then they’re probably also not eating enough at home — they suffer severe cognitive deficits as a result. Hungry kids fall farther and farther behind, slowing down whole classes in the process.

    MAKE SURE THE KIDS ARE FED. You can’t teach hungry children. It is impossible. MAKE SURE THE KIDS ARE FED.

    Serving the kids and then throwing the food away is so absurdly callous to any kid whose family is genuinely having trouble putting food on the table. If you can put your feet in the shoes of someone who is almost never not hungry then maybe you can start to understand why this is such a big deal.

    One of the basics is kids who have enough food in their bellies to be able to concentrate on what is happening in class and retain it. It’s absolutely worth spending the money on that.

  92. thrackerzog says

    For reference, here’s the statement from the district

    Dear patrons and Uintah Elementary parents,

    We have been investigating the lunch situation at Uintah Elementary School and would like to share the following information.

    On Monday, a district Child Nutrition manager was sent to Uintah Elementary School to investigate the large number of students who had zero or negative balances in their school lunch accounts. That same day, the district manager and the local school kitchen manager started making calls to inform parents of the negative balances.

    On Tuesday, the calls to parents continued. When lunch time came, students who still had negative balances were told they could not have a full meal but were given a piece of fruit and a milk for lunch. The district does this so children who don’t have money for lunch can at least have some food and not go without.

    Unfortunately, children are served lunch before they get to the computer for payment (note:this is the standard configuration for schools on the NSLP. Most schools in the country are this way). The children who didn’t have enough money in their accounts had their normal food trays taken from them and were given the fruit and milk.

    This situation could have and should have been handled in a different manner. We apologize.

    We are also investigating what type of notification parents may or may not have received prior to this week. The schools says they inform students when they go through the lunch line if they have a low balance. They say they also send notes home in the student’s Monday folders. However, when contacted Monday or Tuesday, many parents were surprised by the news. The district has specific guidelines for school kitchen managers on how parents should be notified, and we are currently investigating to see if these guidelines were followed correctly.

    We understand the feelings of upset parents and students who say this was an embarrassing and humiliating situation. We again apologize and commit to working with parents in rectifying this situation and to ensuring students are never treated in this manner again.

  93. zenlike says

    86 slignot

    Hey everyone wondering why it saves money to take away meals already served? brianpansky at (81) is on the right track.

    You do realise that was said as a snark, yes?

  94. daniellavine says

    Ya know, fuck that. I’m going to side with the hungry kid every time regardless of what the parents have or haven’t done.

    Feed the kids, all of them. Better for a bunch of hypothetical middle class moochers to “pull a fast one” on the district than for a single child not to have enough food to get through the school day (for reasons entirely outside of his or her control).

  95. don1 says

    As a teacher I do not want hungry children in my class because they can’t bloody learn with an empty belly and low energy. Learning is the priority. Give everybody eat.

    At my school the boss makes funds available so that kids who don’t get breakfast can at least get toast or cereal in pastoral time. Some kids get two breakfasts this way but pastoral staff know who should be steered clear of excess calories. Because we know our kids and we care.

    We don’t have electronic payment, parents send in a week’s lunch money on Monday. (We have about 65% on free meals) If a parent doesn’t pay then after a week a polite reminder is sent. After two weeks the pastoral teacher contacts the parent and asks if there is a problem we can help with. (Not getting free meals =/= affliuence.)

    At no point is a child denied lunch. Because then they will be hungry and won’t bloody learn. The core purpose of the school will be undermined by the (regrettably out-sourced) catering company’s accounting policy. So we don’t let that happen.

    Of course there are a few parents who milk the system. Last summer I took a class up to Bamburgh for the day. We sent a letter home asking for voluntary contributions for the cost. Most chipped in, even those on free meals. We also asked that spending money be limited to £5, enough for an ice-cream and a modest souvenir. One kid was given ten pence. (We are a special needs school and he understood he concept of money but not quantity so he had ‘money’.) What do you do? Let one of the few good days out in a kid’s life turn to embarassment and misery or put your hand in your pocket for a few quid and make them happy? Most teachers I know end up 50 – 100 quid out of pocket at the end of the year but nobody gets upset about it.

    Priorities. Teach, nurture, support, protect. Not priorities; everything else.

  96. allegro says

    @ #100 thrackerzog

    So parents were given less than 24 hours after only some of them were contacted by phone AND before any payments could be processed.

    This is so not helping their/your case (yes, your case since you are so energetically defending the school’s actions).

  97. says

    From what I can tell, we all agree that served meals shouldn’t be taken away after a kid gets it. That is being changed. Not sure why we’re still arguing about it or why the explanations given *why* it happened in terms of programming structure and federal rules to limit who can know about payment are criticized as defenses of continuing the policy.

    I think it was a shitty thing to do. I also understand why the lunch room was set up so that it happened in the first place. Trying to explain why it happened that so you know it wasn’t done as a deliberate message to their parents has been treated as defending that shitty thing.

    Since that’s not going to happen with policy revisions (while making sure they continue complying with federal rules about who can & can’t know about payment status), is there anything left to contest at this point? Or is it just that we have to keep piling outrage on the employees following pretty standard nationwide practice so they all get fired?

    I’m frustrated because somehow despite the fact that I don’t disagree with anyone’s long-term goals or wishes in feeding all kids here, I’m guilty of expressing or advocating for:

    -immorality (per Amphiox*)
    -stupidity (per Amphiox and Thumper)
    -callousness (also Thumper)
    -child abuse (Amphiox)

    All because I’m not willing to allow condemnation of schools not having a choice in having to stop serving meals in our current system. When I say I want concrete solutions to the problem, it’s because I’m frustrated how limited the federal program is. It’s incredibly important and does vital work for low income students. It also helps rich kids like the parents in this story whose kids went hungry for a single day. It is harmful, but not malicious harm like the transphobic school bathroom bill being introduced in my state legislature. At least hate my state for good reasons.

    Carlie, you’re saying you don’t see anyone advocating floating free meals forever, but I don’t see how else to read this at 91:

    Wait until summer and then send a credit collector after the parents for the full several hundred dollar bill owing.

    $100 balance would be at least ten weeks worth of meals. These are the kinds of de-facto loans schools should be forced to put up with?

    When I say I want concrete solutions, it’s not because I don’t want anything to change or that I don’t think things can change. It’s that simply saying “all kids should eat free” is wonderful but we need to have something to work toward. And we need to stop condemning those who are just doing their best under limited circumstances now.

    I find the way news articles have been written, the way this has been pushed on social media and the way this has been discussed here demonizing, harmful and ultimately a hollow gesture of outrage that makes no positive change.

    Many of you are parents so you have a stake in this getting better. thrackerzog has been doing this work since he was 16. He has more than a stake in this getting better, he has a drive to make it better for everybody. Acting as though our posts here to acknowledge the difficulties in improving this reality are callous, and inappropriately punish children for their parents’ actions is insulting.

    *Note the Ampiox conflates cutting off services for non-payment with me endorsing continuing to take away served meals, although I said nothing of the kind in 86.

  98. Vall says

    @ slignot “CONCRETE SUGGESTIONS NOW. Otherwise I will dismiss you as self-righteous cardboard cutout caricatures of compassionate human beings.”

    Who wants a handout now? If we just GAVE you solutions, people that could think them up on their own would just stop, and then everyone would have free solutions. What are you? Socialist? Where is the profit in that?

    I agree with thumper @95. How about everyone eating free? I can’t say for your state, but in mine, everyone pays school tax, kids or not. So is objecting to paying for something twice the same as asking for a handout? I know the taxes go to everything school related, you just don’t have the budget for free lunch. I get it. Free suggestion: raise the taxes. Then instead of taking food from children’s mouths, you could lock up the parents who don’t pay. Bonus if it’s a private prison because then you get to milk those freeloaders for all they have.

    You don’t like the idea of raising taxes? How about some accountability from the school districts on where the money goes. Good luck with that. Or spend less on sports. Just ONE less multi-million dollar football stadium would pay for quite a few lunches.

  99. Amphiox says

    $100 balance would be at least ten weeks worth of meals. These are the kinds of de-facto loans schools should be forced to put up with?

    Why not? If, as you claim, these are affluent families whose parents are actually capable of paying such a sum, then why not? Why not even ask for a lump sum payment up front for the entire school year’s worth of lunches at the start of the year?

    And we need to stop condemning those who are just doing their best under limited circumstances now.

    Best? BEST?!

    THIS situation which I AM CONDEMNING is a case of fucking CHILD ABUSE.

    And you are being an apologist for child abusers.

    You’re damn right I am going to continue condemning situations like this one. And if this is the “best” that someone can do in THIS SPECIFIC situation, that person should NOT be allowed anywhere NEAR children, ever.

  100. daniellavine says

    slignot@106:

    When I say I want concrete solutions, it’s not because I don’t want anything to change or that I don’t think things can change. It’s that simply saying “all kids should eat free” is wonderful but we need to have something to work toward. And we need to stop condemning those who are just doing their best under limited circumstances now.

    Several concrete solutions have already been suggested. School lunches already cost less than almost any school supplies and are far more important from a pedagogical point of view (you can teach a fed student with no school supplies, you can’t teach a hungry student with school supplies). Maybe you don’t quite understand the scale of what’s going on here.
    US defense budget (2014): $3.8 trillion
    US federal school lunch program(2012): $11.6 billion

    Taking 1% off the defense budget could more than quadruple the money available for the school lunch program.

    Here’s another one: Bill Gates could spend a few of his billions on school lunches instead of dubious untried ed reform measures formulated without any input from actual teachers.

    But hey, you asked straight-up if schools should be spending their money on this when they can barely cover the basics. The answer is yes because this is one of the basics.

  101. says

    daniellavine,

    At (99) you have completely failed to understand what I said and meant. Please re-read. I was aghast at the idea school districts that can’t afford floating loans to paying parents for a week because they can’t afford basics should invest in staff to track lunch loans issued to parents & getting funds through collections processes. I really don’t think this is what you meant when you said yes here.

    In addition, you’re doing the same conflation of needy kids who experience hunger and food insecurity with the kids at Uintah Elementary who almost certainly are well fed otherwise. Yes, it is a bad thing that happened on Tuesday. It didn’t keep happening.

    Please, by all means join me in demanding increases in taxation better priorities in federal and state budgets. I’m not delighted how this story started but I would be ecstatic if it created momentum and pressure to get more money and oh-please-oh-please a bill that allows all meals to be free.

  102. carlie says

    No, I don’t agree with building up a balance of $100 or more. I hadn’t noticed that one. The single terrible decision in all of this was to take the meals away from the kids. Without even discussing all of the structural problems that led to that moment, and all of the federal/state/county/city policies that allow/cause such a thing to happen, that single decision could have been made differently. This would have never made the news if they had just told the kids discreetly that this meal was the last one they’d be getting – by calling them down to the office, handing them another note, calling home and leaving a message. That one more meal, for 40 kids, would have been less than $100 altogether of extra debt. Instead, this happened. I firmly believe that the kids, if they knew directly that going through the line again would result in an embarrassing moment, wouldn’t do it. The kids themselves wouldn’t continue to take from the system, and would rather starve themselves, than go through that in front of their peers.

    Another thing about the notification system – these kids weren’t first-time attendees. If notes home had always been of the “pay sooner or later” variety, it was dumb to suddenly change it without notice to “pay right NOW or else” after training all of the parents that a notice meant “pay in the next couple of weeks or so”. There simply wasn’t enough communication ever in the process.

  103. Onamission5 says

    Why, It’s almost like some people think it’s okay to not feed children and to treat them like they are not growing human beings with high nutritional needs because of the actions of their parents. Those kids can just skip a meal, it’s fine, and good for building character! GAH. Why do we have school lunch programs at all, if it’s okay with y’all that children go hungry just because their parents didn’t give them money to buy lunch that day?

    Oh yeah, because sometime back in the 1930’s, someone decided that children, because they are innocents and powerless to change their circumstances, should not be made to starve just because their parents did or did not do something.

    But no, let’s find a way to weasel the whole conversation back to it being okay to deprive kids of meals because of course the ones who should suffer the consequences of underfunded programs are the hungry children those programs were implemented to help, because that always ends well. And of course none of the kids who were given a nutritionally deficient meal could possibly be kids with diabetes or a metabolic disorder because that would never happen. And of course they were all rich! Because the one dad who was chosen to appear on tv didn’t look poor! FWIW, if that had been my spouse interviewed, he’d not have admitted to being unable to feed his kid on camera, either, because being seen as absent minded is better than being seen as poor.

    $43,00. That is how much a family of four can gross annually before they are cut off of the reduced meals program. I did an incredibly off the cuff estimate of COL for a family renting a 3 bedroom apartment in SLC, with one car, and came up with $660 a month left over after basics. Not including food, clothing, medical bills, repairs or emergencies. Again, as if anyone was listening, not getting reduced meals =/= being rich.

  104. carlie says

    US defense budget (2014): $3.8 trillion
    US federal school lunch program(2012): $11.6 billion

    Taking 1% off the defense budget could more than quadruple the money available for the school lunch program.

    Yes, but what slignot is saying is that that is not a decision that the person in charge of that city school district gets to make. They only get to play the hand they’ve been dealt, and we all agree it’s a shitty one.

    (My contention is that that person in charge didn’t make the correct decision on whether to walk away or to run. (to stretch the card-playing metaphor) )

  105. daniellavine says

    slignot@110:

    At (99) you have completely failed to understand what I said and meant. Please re-read. I was aghast at the idea school districts that can’t afford floating loans to paying parents for a week because they can’t afford basics should invest in staff to track lunch loans issued to parents & getting funds through collections processes. I really don’t think this is what you meant when you said yes here

    If that’s less expensive than comping the lunches then we should do that. If not then we should comp the lunches. It doesn’t really affect the argument.

    In addition, you’re doing the same conflation of needy kids who experience hunger and food insecurity with the kids at Uintah Elementary who almost certainly are well fed otherwise. Yes, it is a bad thing that happened on Tuesday. It didn’t keep happening.

    All of them? You know this personally to be a fact? As I already said, I think it’s better to let middle class moochers get away with this than to let even one student go hungry.

    But it doesn’t really matter. Hungry kids can’t learn very well regardless of their parents’ actual income and that holds back the teacher and thus the rest of the students.

    Hey, another concrete suggestion (and I’m just spitballing): let’s take some of the money spent on administration and ed reform consultants and spend that on school lunches since it’s currently being completely wasted.

  106. carlie says

    because of course the ones who should suffer the consequences of underfunded programs are the hungry children those programs were implemented to help

    They specifically said that these were not kids on the reduced/free program.

    And of course none of the kids who were given a nutritionally deficient meal could possibly be kids with diabetes or a metabolic disorder because that would never happen

    I know kids with diabetes and metabolic disorders. They generally have their own food, because you can never quite know exactly what you’re going to get/eat with a school lunch.

    And of course they were all rich! Because the one dad who was chosen to appear on tv didn’t look poor!

    No, because the school said specifically that the affected kids were not on the reduced/free lunch program. If you look upthread you can see that I’m also arguing that it shouldn’t have happened, but don’t misrepresent what happened in arguing against it.

  107. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Nowhere in the article is there any indication that the lunch workers were Mormon. According to the Pfffft only 41% of the citizens of Utah are active LDS.

  108. David Marjanović says

    What’s more, schools here in Utah have reported to the state office that getting parents to pay for meals already served is incredibly difficult, like pulling teech.

    Why? Genuine, ignorant quesiton here.

    The only staff allowed to know a child’s account status are the food service staff.

    What, not even the school administration, in particular the secretary who is presumably charged with informing the parents that they’re behind with their payments? Not even – this is elementary school – the teacher who is with the child for something like 25 hours per week?

    $100 balance would be at least ten weeks worth of meals. These are the kinds of de-facto loans schools should be forced to put up with?

    If it gets to 100 $ (or 50 or whatever), begin to charge interest. That’s what everyone else does when payments are late. But see Carlie’s comments 96 and 97 (and now 111): there should be ways for keeping the debts from getting that high in the first place (in the vast majority of cases).

    Why not even ask for a lump sum payment up front for the entire school year’s worth of lunches at the start of the year?

    Indeed.

    FWIW, if that had been my spouse interviewed, he’d not have admitted to being unable to feed his kid on camera, either, because being seen as absent minded is better than being seen as poor.

    …Is it that bad in the US?

  109. Tethys says

    From what I can tell, we all agree that served meals shouldn’t be taken away after a kid gets it.

    Yes, this should never have been allowed to happen. That district child nutrition manager who decided that the best course of action was publically showing hungry children their lunch and then throwing it in the trash !! This person, and their bosses absolutely should be fired.

    Do not blame callous behavior on the computer system, or federal regulations. It was people who removed the food trays literally from the hands of children, and threw them away.

    If you want to do better, I suggest using this thing called technology.

    https://paypams.com/

    Automatic notification to the parents phone is a no brainer solution that does not involve public humiliation of children.

  110. phere says

    Well this just fucking broke my heart. Who the hell is heartless enough to take lunches away from hungry kids???? Did the poor kids then have to watch all the better-off kids eat their lunches? I can’t even imagine the humiliation these children endured at the hands of the staff and quite possibly their peers as well. What is WRONG with people???? Then to THROW THE FOOD AWAY???? I am so angry I am shaking and crying right now. Why is always kids who endure the brunt of OUR bad decisions – be it parents, communities, or lawmakers – it’s the kids who always fucking suffer. I wish I could tell these kids that I’m so sorry. That they deserved better. That this cruel incident speaks NOTHING of their value as a person and it was the school who should be humiliated by their actions.

  111. Paul K says

    I’m on our local school board, and I’m a parent of a child in the district, and we currently qualify for free lunch (and breakfast), and have also qualified for reduced prices in the past. So I know something about these issues.

    Our district has something like 25-30% of families qualifying for free or reduced pricing on meals. The free families are irrelevant, since they get meals regardless (if they apply). Everyone else has an account, which they are asked to keep ahead on. And parents are notified when their accounts get down to $5 (a couple of meals). If families go far into the red, kids still get fed. It’s not much: a cheese sandwich and a beverage. But here’s the thing. We try really hard to not let that happen. Our principals make calls to parents before anyone gets a cheese sandwich. Even then, kids usually don’t get cheese sandwiches if the parents don’t pay, unless their bill gets pretty high. (I was just told on the phone by one of the nutrition people ‘We give out very few cheese sandwiches.’)

    I wanted to know about this practice of not charging until the lunch is actually served, so I made a call today and was told that, yes, that is how it is supposed to be done according to federal rules (which is really stupid). But if, somehow, someone gets served a meal who has not paid for a while, they get to eat it! This is the part that is just plain inexcusable. It helps no one to throw that meal away. And it harms the child, it harms the people who are forced to do it, and it harms the community of the school. And to say that schools cannot afford to feed kids whose parents won’t pay makes absolutely no sense when those same schools can afford to both throw away a decent lunch and provide the paltry meal in addition.

    We are not a rich district as far as getting what we need from state and local taxes, and I live in Wisconsin, where education cuts have been severe. Yet we choose to do our best to make sure kids eat well. The number of families who don’t pay is small here, where we have plenty of folks who are not well-off. I imagine the number is no larger in the district where this happened. If parents pay late, it really does not matter in the long run. If they never pay at all, we eat the cost. For the kids’ sake. Because that’s our job.

  112. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    slignot &thrackerzog,

    From what I can tell, we all agree that served meals shouldn’t be taken away after a kid gets it.

    Yes.

    Keep up the good work with nutrition programs. You’re doing your best in a shitty system.

  113. carlie says

    I want to try to clarify a bit, for my mind at least.

    This wasn’t about kids on the free/reduced meal plan, as far as they’re saying. These are kids whose parents, presumably, can afford to feed them by giving them a lunch to take.

    These are parents who had been notified repeatedly that their account was behind. They can pay, and they should.

    However:

    We don’t know if the notifications were traditionally a heads-up rather than a last notice bill. To me as a parent, that’s the biggest thing that stands out at me (and honestly, hurts my feelings most) about thrackerzod’s comment at 55 – from the administration’s point of view I might be lazy or a freeloader, but from my point of view I’m juggling my bills, which includes working on the most pressing ones first and leaving things like school lunch until last because the school doesn’t seem to care when I pay as long as I eventually do. That seems like a straight-up problem of communication more than anything. Maybe that had something to do with it. Maybe that had a lot to do with it. So some understanding and leeway from the school admin side would have made a lot of sense, along with figuring out how to communicate with the parents more clearly.

    The system itself also seems faulty. Does it take a few days to generate the notices, get them to the parents, and get a response? I know what workweeks are like at my house. If my kid was eating school lunch every day, I could easily see it being a week or so of meals: account gets flagged on Monday. Note gets printed and sent home on Tuesday. He forgets to give it to me until Wednesday night. Thursday morning is my early work day, and I’m out of the house before he is and forget to hand him the check. He has it in his backpack on Friday, but it won’t get credited to his account until Monday. There’s a week’s worth right there. If they don’t have the slush money to cover the amount of time it physically takes to notify/get response, they need to figure out how to fix that internally.

    However:

    The district can’t, in fact, provide free lunches that they haven’t gotten the budget for, so if they don’t cut people off at some point in some way, the only thing left would be to tighten up the meals for everyone in the system somehow, which would hurt even more kids. There are nutritional guidelines that have to be met, but they might have to cut the quality. Or they might have to simply restrict the number of meals served to only the free/reduced plan students, and then none of the other kids even get an option for a hot lunch. That’s bad in any number of ways – just being able to afford to buy lunch doesn’t mean you have the resources to make and pack a good lunch every day as an alternative. Given the restrictions they currently have, they have to do something.

    I think everyone here is in agreement that what that school did about it was wrong. The school itself says it was wrong. It was one overzealous administrator who came in and did it, and everyone is sorry it happened. There are other ways that could have been used to get the result of parents paying up.

    Is that the upshot of it? Is there, then anything to argue about?

  114. says

    Bottom line here.

    I love the federal child nutrition program which runs far beyond school lunches. It reimburses child care centers & home child care providers for serving kids healthy meals. It ensures that when school isn’t in session there are summer foods sites to help fill bellies of kids. It reimburses healthy USDA regulated meals for youth in custody.

    I admire the people who work in the system, broken as it is. I know that they care about poverty in hunger is a visceral way because I know some of them personally. They are doing the actual daily work of feeding kids and I actively resent any demonization because they’re at the mercy of political bullshit.

    I don’t think the program is good enough or big enough. I want it to be bigger, I want food to be a right in practice instead of just in principle. That doesn’t mean the program is worthless or that I will accept mistakes when you’re doing the job as you’re told by your employers is a personal failing rather than a systemic one.

    Our economic system is deeply unfair and needs to be fixed. None of this means that local people working in lunchrooms are child abusers and that kind of rhetoric is not merely inflammatory, but actively harmful. I reject this kind of reaction and hope it’s replaced with something better upon reflection.

    Our schools are incredibly shortchanged in every possible way. I want your help in pushing to make it better. Joining jerks who are trying to get people fired for following district policy (in line with national setups in this program) is actively harmful and doesn’t do anything to help. If you’re bothered by the policy of taking away served meals, find out if it’s happening in your local schools (it very possibly is) & push for policy change there too. It’s changing here, so make that spread.

    I want more money for education through reordering priorities in state and federal budgets to get rid of tools of oppression, war & death in favor of helping kids. I want more money by increasing tax revenue because we allow the rich to benefit from everyone else without paying fairly into the system.

    RIGHT NOW, money available to schools is not endless and while it’s not that feeding kids isn’t part of the basics (as evidenced by the fact that we have child nutrition programs to begin with), you can only stretch your resources so far. I’ve been talking about this in multiple venues since Wednesday night when the local story broke and I confess I am exhausted from the amount of knee-jerk and unthinking misdirected rage.

    I want to get people to help us push for changes instead of simply telling schools they’re supposed to do better by getting more money, getting more funding (as if they don’t beg for it every year) instead of wanting to endlessly focus on the things that were done wrong and are being recognized & changed.

    There are major problems in how things were handled and they are being addressed now. (And I do know this stopped happening because the media storm led to action the next day, so yes I believe no long term harm was done.) Why is it so awful to insist we recognize the realities and limitations currently as context as we work to make things better?

    I find myself perplexed by the way people have essentially said parents’ affluence in this specific incident is irrelevant. It’s immoral and abusive for a school to not give free lunches they can’t afford & aren’t being reimbursed for, but not immoral or abusive for the parents for a school whose area’s median income was over $60K not to make sure they’re covering their children’s lunches. By all means, the school can communicate better and try to find a way to not serve meals in the first place, but as I see it, there is still huge hypocrisy on the part of parents saying their children were harmed without acknowledging any part of that burden as their own.

    I am not saying any of the systemic limitations currently are moral or shouldn’t be changed, but why won’t you use your anger to help schools and child nutrition programmers begging for money each year to actually succeed? I just want people to help instead of seek symbolic punishment of local officials or demand nonexistent money be spent right now.

  115. Paul K says

    carlie @122:

    Lynna at 53 linked to the news story that says this was not a one-time incident.

    Over the years Kirkham’s twin 17-year-old boys have seen lunch taken from students in Provo School District’s elementary and secondary schools.

    ‘Over the years’, if accurate, makes this a much bigger story to me. It means someone is lying about this being a one-time incident.

  116. Paul K says

    slignot @ 123:

    I don’t suggest that anyone should be fired over this, yet. I don’t know all the facts, and likely never will. But taking away a meal, in front of other kids, and then throwing it away, is just plain wrong. I don’t care if it is following federal policy; it is wrong. Financially wrong and morally wrong. If the school cannot find a way to keep that from happening, either by keeping closer track of kids’ accounts and not letting them get served in the first place, or by simply allowing them to eat a meal that will otherwise be thrown away, then they are screwing up.

    I understand the necessity of having a cut-off point (see my comment at 120), but taking a meal away after it has already been served is inexcusable. And, again, as Lynna’s link at 53 says, this apparently is not a one-time mistake, but a policy.

    We may not even disagree on any major point, but I am not ready to excuse the school.

  117. dogfightwithdogma says

    I am no fan of mormonism. It is a religion that deserves to be criticized and ridiculed often. But I am curious in this particular instance as to what is the argument for claiming as PZ does in the OP that this is partly due to it being a “Mormon thing”? Just because it occurred in Utah? Do we even know for sure that those involved in the decision to do this and those who carried it out are all mormons? I know that given this is Salt Lake City, there is a high probability that they are Mormons. But shouldn’t this actually be confirmed before we start charging that this act, certainly a heartless one, is connected to Mormon teachings?

  118. daniellavine says

    slignot@123:

    I am not saying any of the systemic limitations currently are moral or shouldn’t be changed, but why won’t you use your anger to help schools and child nutrition programmers begging for money each year to actually succeed? I just want people to help instead of seek symbolic punishment of local officials or demand nonexistent money be spent right now.

    Symbolic punishment of local officials is at least a little more justified than symbolic punishment of children.

    To me, that’s the entire issue. Children were punished for something out of their control and that is wrong. I guess the only grounds for disagreement at this point is that you don’t think anyone should be held accountable for that whereas I think the person who made the decision to symbolically punish the children should maybe be held accountable.

  119. carlie says

    I guess the only grounds for disagreement at this point is that you don’t think anyone should be held accountable for that

    Slignot did not say that, but rather that that person shouldn’t be held accountable for everything that is wrong with the system.

  120. carlie says

    but as I see it, there is still huge hypocrisy on the part of parents saying their children were harmed without acknowledging any part of that burden as their own.

    In the same way that the admin. isn’t responsible for all the wrongs in the system, though, the parents aren’t either. Two weeks is the usual standard for most bills between notice and required payment, so it seems to be asking for an absurdly quick turnaround for them to get less than a week from billing to payment, esp. if children carrying notes home and giving them to their parents is one of the steps. A few may be milking the system, but most are probably doing the best they can. Some apologies on all sides between those parents and administrators is probably needed.

  121. daniellavine says

    carlie@128:

    Slignot did not say that, but rather that that person shouldn’t be held accountable for everything that is wrong with the system.

    Where did anyone argue otherwise?

  122. carlie says

    You said that slignot said that nobody should be held accountable for what happened, and I said that was a misrepresentation.

  123. says

    Concrete suggestion: don’t yell at the people who are angry, USE THE OUTRAGE. This is a political problem, and here you’ve got people all around the country shocked and yelling at the mismanagement of the system. Take that and tell the administrators that unless they want to face eruptions of anger like this in the future, they need to fix the system.

    Maybe the locusts inhabiting the capitol can be awakened and motivated to enact changes to school funding. Mormons are so proud of their concern for children; they ought to be embarrassed.

  124. unclefrogy says

    If the defense of this action and apology for it and the underling policy is to be believed and is in favor of a major change I.E. free lunches The actions and the defense indicate two things that the defenders really agree with the policies as they are being implemented or are victims of a lack of courage. The problem and the responsibility is just push off on someone else. First it was the kids a pointless act, then they blame the parents it was their cheating was to blame. No where have I heard about pushing back up the levels to the administration levels above nor to the politicians who refuse to supply the needed funding.
    No what we see continually, repeatedly is administrations just either adopting their own Draconian policies that go against the purported goals or just rolling over for grandstanding bulling politicians.
    the result is increasing failure, But is not my fault, I am not to blame, my hands are tied, or some other pass the buck.crap.
    uncle frogy
    .

  125. daniellavine says

    carlie@131:

    You said that slignot said that nobody should be held accountable for what happened, and I said that was a misrepresentation.

    Then I’m not sure why slignot is getting so mad that other people who want the administrator in question to be held accountable. It’s certainly been my impression that this is the source of friction between slignot and other commenters here.

    Hence my question: who has argued “that person shouldn’t be held accountable for everything that is wrong with the system”? In the absence of anyone making that argument it is difficult to understand what is making slignot so angry.

  126. ledasmom says

    It wasn’t about kids who were on the free or reduced-price meal plan, which doesn’t mean that none of them were qualified to be.
    Where we are, 74% of students were on the free or reduced plan in 2012. The district with the highest rate in the state had 88% of their students on free or reduced.
    It seems to me that we should never be at a place where one piece of fruit and a small milk is acceptable to anyone as a substitute for a meal. I thought allegro’s suggestion of an auto-deduct system sounded good; that and perhaps some extra checking to make sure everybody who is entitled to reduced-price/free meals gets them. That’s a short-term measure; in the long term, just feed everyone and to hell with it.

  127. carlie says

    In the absence of anyone making that argument it is difficult to understand what is making slignot so angry.

    In general, from what I’m reading it was the insistence that “things shouldn’t be that way, therefore we shouldn’t act as if things are that way”, when in reality, well, they are that way. Saying that the school should fund lunches for everyone doesn’t mean that it can, right this minute, and therefore shouldn’t worry at all about going bankrupt in the meantime. The whole thread has had a lot of discussion at the extremes rather than on the specifics of this situation.

    Also maybe being called stupid, immoral, and an apologist for child abusers. Yes, it’s rough here, and yes, that in and of itself shouldn’t dissuade people from discussion, but that doesn’t mean it might not make one angry to be called such.

    It’s certainly been my impression that this is the source of friction between slignot and other commenters here.

    That’s not what I’m seeing – I’m seeing the friction as the side of “but schools have to meet budgets” up against the ideal of “nobody should be denied food”. No, nobody should be denied food. But schools still have to meet their budgets. That they can’t is a systemic issue that can’t be resolved by a single school or even a single district (especially not since other people get to vote on their budgets).

  128. ck says

    Well, if we just let the kids eat for free, how will they ever learn not to be born to people who forget to pay their bills? Pretty soon all children choose to be born to people who fail to pay their bills and western civilization as we know it will collapse. No, we have to punish these children by humiliating them in front of their peers and leaving them hungry in order to teach them to be responsible for their erroneous decision.

  129. carlie says

    I thought allegro’s suggestion of an auto-deduct system sounded good;

    And more, it would be nice to have a donation option where you could opt to add a little more into a pooled fund specifically so that there was a cushion for the parents who can’t quite make the bills every time it happens. A lot of people wouldn’t or couldn’t contribute, but an extra $5 or $10 from the parents who are so inclined might make a decent enough amount so that the school wouldn’t be in such dire straits when the amounts didn’t quite match up as soon as needed.

  130. ledasmom says

    Yes, the donation option would be a good addition; sort of like the ones at the supermarket where you put a dollar extra on your bill. They have done that at my kids’ schools for school trips and the like, send in a bit extra for those who couldn’t otherwise go.
    It just seems so obvious that this is not where the budget should pinch, over this question of lunch for children, and yet it does. That is what is wrong. Somehow we think it is optional.

  131. Merlin says

    I had this bout of outrage a few months earlier when my mother (an elementary school Principal) explained that this was the law for her school’s lunch program. An important note is that this is in case the parents had not been keeping up on their lunch account. Free and reduced cost lunches are a separate animal (in Wisconsin, for now). However, being a responsible Principal, she will make sure that her students get fed (there are numerous ways for her to do this). Then the parent will get a phone call notification and a letter sent home with their child. I am still infuriated that it takes her personal commitment to keep this public taunting and humiliation from being visited upon her students. No kid deserves such treatment. It takes a basic lack of human decency and empathy from top to bottom to inflict this upon children.

  132. kimberlyherbert says

    I’m a teacher – and according to what we have been told they violated the law and could put their free/reduced funding in jeopardy. All students must have a meal at lunch.

    The “system” is supposed to both send an e-mail and do an auto call when the account gets below a certain amount. The reality for my campus is that e-mail was made to register their kids and in never checked. Often the phone is a pay as you go and has the phone number no longer works. So on Wednesdays our cashier checks the amount in the accounts. If it is below a certain level – the kid is handed a bright colored note (Color changes depending on what neon type paper is available) telling their parent they need more funds. Several kids from each class get them and the kids sometimes will tell the cashier I need a note to remind Mom/Dad to put money in my account. The teacher monitoring lunch takes them up and puts the child’s name on them. Then we put the notes in the kids Wednesday folders, with all the other important papers.

    Once the account gets to a certain amount over draw, the office sends us a free/reduced form to send home with the kid. We call, even sometimes do a home visit to get those filled out. Only if all those efforts fail, does the child stop getting to order a meal (Hot lunch or Salad/yogurt plate) instead gets a sandwich (choice ham, cheese, or PBJ) along with milk and a fruit. Honestly only once this year have I seen a kid get a sandwich. They still owed from LAST year, and wouldn’t fill out Free/reduced form. Mom was up the next day to fill in the form and pay the amount owed.

  133. moabite says

    I first heard about this from my daughter. She read about it on Gawker.com. I could not believe the story so I went to the SL Tribune to see if this was true.

    Both of my children went to this grade school. It is in one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Utah.The Harvard/Yale neighborhood is within the area serviced by this school. In the 1980s this was the highest priced neighborhood in Utah. The neighborhood is affluent and liberal by Utah standards. Being a poor kid in this school is humiliating enough without having your school lunch taken away in front of all your class mates.

    It is hard to explain well but there is a deep and unrecognized kind of Puritan ethic that runs through Utah. It is kind of hard to understand because Mormons are not a dour community. But it is something like H. L. Mencken’s definition of Puritanism, “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.” But in Utah we add “at my expense.”

  134. jagwired says

    thrackerzog @94:

    Notes were sent home. Some parents say they got them, some said they didn’t. Some parents were a week behind. That means their kid went through the line 5 times and got a meal without paying. I can guarantee every time the kid went through the like the school staff told them they were out of money and to tell their parents.

    OMFG!!!!! The little shits got five meals without paying? A whole fucking weeks worth?! It should’ve been debtor’s prison for the parents at three days, and at five, we should be talking about firing squads.

    You and your wife are angry at people who are angry that children were forced to go hungry and mortified in front of their classmates? Fuck you and your wife. Get your fucking priorities straight you fucking bureaucrat.

  135. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    Jason Olsen, a Salt Lake City District spokesman, said the district’s child-nutrition department became aware that Uintah had a large number of students who owed money for lunches.

    As a result, the child-nutrition manager visited the school and decided to withhold lunches to deal with the issue, he said.

    These are the fuckers I’d want fired. The manager for going to the school and deciding to make people take away lunches and Olsen for his automatice defense of this decision. That manager is in child nutrition there is no excuse. They should know better! Someone who makes that decision is not someone I’d want working around my child, for my child, with my child.

    123
    slignot

    I just want people to help instead of seek symbolic punishment of local officials or demand nonexistent money be spent right now.

    But it’s not symbolic. It’s a message. I’d bet your ass the school is now somehow finding a better way to do things with the same amount of resources they had before. But all of a sudden they have the motivation to do something because a bunch of people are pissed off. And rightly so.

    I am not saying any of the systemic limitations currently are moral or shouldn’t be changed, but why won’t you use your anger to help schools and child nutrition programmers begging for money each year to actually succeed?

    Who says it won’t? And why assume people aren’t helping push for their area? And voting accordingly? Why must everyone assume all The Horde does is yell online? Honestly, I’ve seen that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

    Isn’t all the movements and changes supposed to start local since that’s where people can have a greater effect? Who says this won’t make a difference? I don’t expect this to cause proper funding over night but at least this school will change. Unless people lose their anger and just let is slide.

  136. ambulocetacean says

    Wow. I wonder how much the parents of those kids tithe to the Mormon church. What is it supposed to be? 10 per cent of your gross income?

  137. anteprepro says

    Gave ‘em a full day to fix their accounts and then just went full on Soup Nazi, huh? Looks like in addition to learning how to be decent human beings, they also need to learn how billing and paperwork works. Any other facilities that cut off service after one day of late payment? In a very public fashion, that ultimately results in them losing money in order to make a big show of refusing service? All very right wing.

  138. says

    don1:

    Priorities. Teach, nurture, support, protect.

    *sigh* One could hope.

    I love how all y’all are talking like there’s no such thing as school districts in the US who provide meals to every student. I know that there’s several in Vermont (and the issue has been tossed around the state level) that provide for every kid regardless of need. Want a better example of a large, metropolitan district feeding all students? How about Boston?

    It is not impossible to get rid of this bullshittery. It is not impossible to go through the day without shaming kids. This is not something that should evereverever happen in a public school and we already have the mechanism in place to make sure it never happens again.

  139. ledasmom says

    If I understood what I’ve read correctly, if more than 40% of students in a district qualify for free lunch the district can go with community eligibility, under which all the students get free lunch and the district is reimbursed by the government. I believe Boston qualifies for community eligibility – more than 80% of public-school students in Boston are eligible for either free or reduced-price lunch. Boston also provides free breakfast. Apparently free breakfast is only required to be offered at schools with more than a certain percentage of free- or reduced-price-qualified students, meaning that in relatively well-off districts the poorer students may not even have the option of the school breakfast.
    I mean, really, just feed all the kids. Just feed them. This isn’t complicated.

  140. carlie says

    The problem is that school districts are at the mercy of their local voters for their budget, and voters are, as a whole, full up of “I don’t have kids so why should I pay more in taxes” and “the teachers get the summer off and I don’t so why should I pay more in taxes” and “the kids did fine on last year’s budget so why should I pay more in taxes”. In New York, a state judge flatly declared the inequities that result from local funding of school districts to be unconstitutional (based on state constitution). Same thing has happened in Texas. But nothing has changed.

  141. ChasCPeterson says

    I love how all y’all are talking like there’s no such thing as school districts in the US who provide meals to every student.

    You “love” it? What the fuck is that supposed to mean?
    If you have information relevant to the discussion of which others are apparently not aware, you could just offer it without being a self-satisfied superior ass about it.

  142. says

    carlie:

    In New York, a state judge flatly declared the inequities that result from local funding of school districts to be unconstitutional (based on state constitution)

    Yep. The problem is, the state still isn’t funding districts properly, based on their own formula for state funds. My district, for instance, has asked the Feds to investigate.

    Chas:
    I didn’t realize this was a “no snark zone”. My bad, I’ll keep my tone in line with your tastes next time.
    Sanctimonious fucker.

  143. David Marjanović says

    In New York, a state judge flatly declared the inequities that result from local funding of school districts to be unconstitutional (based on state constitution). Same thing has happened in Texas. But nothing has changed.

    *flail*

  144. carlie says

    The New York ruling was at least two years ago, maybe 3? But there haven’t been any consequences for completely ignoring it.