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Kids Go Hungry at School

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In countless junior highs and high schools, there really is no such thing as a free lunch.


Some schools make kids who qualify for the free lunch go through a separate line. But, rather than look "uncool" in front of their peers, many of these kids choose to go hungry, reports the New York Times. "I know kids need to eat but they don't want to be identified with free food," Kenneth Block, a track coach and security guard who oversees the lunch shift at Balboa High in San Francisco, told the NYT.

School officials there are considering going to a debit card system, where everyone checks out in the same line. It breaks our hearts that kids are missing out on their meals just because school officials haven't figured out how to avoid singling them out in such a negative way. How are school lunches handled in your kids' school? Can other kids tell who's getting a subsidized lunch?

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jean March 6, 2008, 3:04 PM

This is very unfair to the kids who aren’t as priveleged as others. Most of the kids have their own opinions of others just because of the way they dress, etc. and don’t bother to get to know each other for who they are and not what they have. Unfortunately, they have been brought up that way. My child’s school doesn’t even give our kids enough time to eat lunch which is just as bad. They expect between 550 to 600 kids to be in the same area at the same time, go through a lunch line, find a place to sit and try to eat in a total of 18 minutes. This includes the time it takes to get to the cafeteria, and to get to their next class plus allow the teachers to butt in line to get their food.

Aram Dermenjian March 7, 2008, 5:00 AM

At my middle school when I was growing up, they had an amazing way to distinguish between the free lunch students and others. There was only one queue to get your lunch, and once you got to the front you entered the last 4 digits of your id or something like that, and that would display to the person how much to charge you. That way there was no controversy over who got what lunch since everyone was in the same line, and no one was confused what to charge. I think the system also was connected to a computer database so that they would know if you tried to order more than one lunch and wouldn’t let you do it. I thought the system was very good and would love to see it repeated in these schools.

leah March 7, 2008, 2:08 PM

when i was growing up and still now, you had a lunch account with a pin number and after you got your lunch you typed in your pin and went to eat. your parents would have to keep money in your account and all of the siblings in your family had one account with their own number so parents only had to write one check and send it with one child. you never knew what anyone was paying for lunch.

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