Tuesday, April 8, 2014

School lunch culpability

I read this: http://www.peopleiwanttopunchinthethroat.com/2012/08/adolpha-on-lunch-line.html; awhile ago and thought it was outrageous that a child would pull such a stunt.  And then I lived it...

I have been called a food Nazi, a title a fully accept & embrace - I have two kids with food allergies (one life threatening) and enough knowledge of physiology to understand that kids' stomachs are really very small therefore every bite must count double what an adult's does.  So ever since they first began eating solid foods I have carefully portioned out well-balanced meals for both of them.  --Now just so you don't think I'm crazy, they do eat complete junk from time to time as well ;-) --  Erin starting school last year ('12-'13) only deepened this neurosis of mine because I read one too many stories of peanut butter "accidentally" making it in school lunches one way or another.  So I have made her a packed lunch everyday for almost 2 years & it's has always been her choice what goes in it (within the confines of nutrition of course).  Both years of teachers knew that she brings her lunch everyday & has no need nor permission to get school lunches.  Then her teacher this year went on maternity leave & a substitute filled in.  Ever since Erin has been acting squirrely when asked about lunch and now we know why.  John picked her up today & found out she had cafeteria lunch (despite having a full lunch of her choosing with her in cafeteria), upon going to the online account to pay for it I find a balance of nearly -$50.  For the uninitiated that's nearly twenty lunches not one!  Upon pressing her we come to find out that she thought it was 'free' (then John said they already had that discussion a week ago). I can somewhat understand the confusion since we are an official 'low-income' area & attend a Title I school, more then 70% of the student body is on the free or reduced lunch program.  In her class alone I know 9 get free lunches (because kindergartners have no filter & thus told me) & I'm sure quite a few get reduced rates as well.  But while I (along with most of the developed world) may complain about budgets, credit, bills etc, we do not anywhere near qualify & so must pay full price.

We are certainly angry with her for lying, hiding, direct disobedience & throwing away perfectly good packed food (that she later admitted to) but also angry with the system.
- 1.) I didn't have a meal account set - up online because it's not required & so didn't see any need since a meal is always packed -  So why in blazes was she allowed to essentially charge TWENTY lunches to a non-existent account?!  I had to register & activate her account to see the balance - But how can an inactive account have a balance?!  Seriously no one with school meal administration thought this was odd?  When you have an active account you get e-mails when your student has gone into the negative - But again with no active account there is no e-mail to send balance to, there system didn't pop out a warning that this balance has no active account/ e-mail attached to it?!

- 2.) The substitute KNEW that she brings a lunch everyday & doesn't get cafeteria lunch ever but yet either allowed or didn't notice her doing it anyway?!  If this was an older child I'd say it's all on her/him but this is kindergarten we're talking about, all they understand is you give the adult a number & you get food like your friends.  And again kindergartners are not shy about talking about themselves so if your friends are talking about "free" food then of course you're going to want to join in.  Once my child steps through those doors she is their responsibility, I am entrusting them to care for my child's total well being & that's NOT an easy thing to do.  This kind of erodes that trust that they are watching my child (& ok 17 other children).

- 3.) Following on from #2, no one notice it odd that a child comes in with a lunchbox (everyday - I checked with the lunch aide who's an acquaintance of mine) & goes into the cafeteria line?!  No one sees her throwing away a lot of food everyday?!  I understand there are a lot of kids & eyes can't be on every single one every single moment & that kids of any age need some self-responsibility but almost twenty times this was missed?!

And you want to know the #1 most irritating part of this whole mess? For cafeteria lunch today she had a Ham & Cheese Sandwich with salad & fruit - The exact same thing that was in her lunch box!!!!!  Ok except it was carrots & celery not salad but same difference - and really child if you're going to sneak cafeteria food & lie why not make it worth it & get the junk :-P

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