“We will now be giving cheese sandwiches to children who have an outstanding lunch bill.”
The lunch lady never sends notes home. The situation must have been pretty bad, because she even put her signature on it. Since it didn’t concern us, I filed it away with all of the other papers that come home from school and forgot about it.
About two weeks ago, I was eating lunch at school, when I needed to step out to make a phone call. On my way, I passed the cafeteria, where I saw a little girl I knew crying at one of the lunch tables. The girl’s teacher was talking with her and everything appeared to be under control.
Our class was having a special event over the lunch hour, so we were eating as a group in the classroom. Shortly after I returned from my phone call, the little girl and her teacher were at the classroom door. They spoke briefly with our teacher before coming in and asking if the little girl could please have some lunch, as she was hungry and too upset to eat in the cafeteria.
Several students in the classroom heard the commotion, came over and hugged the girl and started offering her food. She was overwhelmed, she was embarrassed, she stopped crying and she ate. I didn’t think anymore about it until I saw this article today in USA Today: “No more free lunch: Schools get tough on deadbeats”.
Apparently, schools across the country are having a hard time, because parents are not paying for school lunches. In an effort to get parents to pay, the schools are now giving children a cheese sandwich until their parents pay their bill. The problem is, the children don’t know their parents haven’t paid for lunch and they are finding out for the first time from cafeteria staff, in front of their friends.