What do you guys think about this? It’s been a pretty huge story here in New Mexico, and while on one hand I understand what and why the school system is doing it (we have no money), I cannot help but hate the fact that the kids are being punished for the parents lack of payment…
Faced with mounting unpaid lunch charges in the economic downturn, Albuquerque Public Schools last month instituted a “cheese sandwich policy,” serving the alternative meals to children whose parents fail to pick up their lunch tab.
Such policies have become a necessity for schools seeking to keep budgets in the black while ensuring children don’t go hungry. School districts including those in Chula Vista, Calif., Hillsborough County, Fla., and Lynnwood, Wash., have also taken to serving cheese sandwiches to lunch debtors.
Critics argue the cold meals are a form of punishment for children whose parents can’t afford to pay.
“We’ve heard stories from moms coming in saying their child was pulled out of the lunch line and given a cheese sandwich,” said Nancy Pope, director of the New Mexico Collaborative to End Hunger. “One woman said her daughter never wants to go back to school.”
Some Albuquerque parents have tearfully pleaded with school board members to stop singling out their children because they’re poor, while others have flooded talk radio shows thanking the district for imposing a policy that commands parental responsibility.
In Albuquerque, unpaid lunch charges hovered around $55,000 in 2006, $130,000 at the end of the 2007-08 school year, and $140,000 through the first five months of this school year. So…Is the school system right? Wrong? What do you think should be done?