“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and it’s best hope for the future.” That’s what John F Kennedy said in June of 1963. Whitney Houston sang about it in her greatest hit The Greatest Love of All. So why would we shame those that will be our future? Are we going to force that precious resource to be mocked over something they have no control of? Is this how we treat our children?
A Rhode Island public school forced students with an unpaid lunch debt to eat sun butter & jelly sandwiches. Starting this week, students were denied hot lunches until the debt has been paid in full. The school district catapulted into the national spotlight. After the story went viral, the district has since reversed their ruling and started allowing parents to get on a payment plan while allowing the children to eat hot meals.
The Power of Social Media
This story ends in a good way. Social Media took a step forward in becoming a platform of positivity and shone the light on something dark and repugnant.
The kindness of strangers is a powerful thing. The generosity of Hamdi Ulukaya, owner of Chobani Yogurts, donates $50,000 to help pay off the district’s debt of over $77,000, most of that is from students who no longer enrolled. Shame on Rhodes Island school district thought this was a good idea forcing kids to suffer for students who don’t even attend the school anymore.
I was disheartened to find out that Lunch Shaming is not a little known thing. This is a national problem and needs to be addressed. Districts across America have turned to Lunch Shaming at some point. In Minnesota, students with outstanding debt will not be allowed to graduate while others are forcing the students to wear a stamp or wristband. It’s hard enough being a kid these days, why do you want to make to more difficult for them by making them stand out for being poor?
What is Washington Doing?
The Federal government does have a Universal Lunch Care program, supporting low income families where they can receive reduced-price or free meals. Currently, families living below 130% of the poverty line and families who are eligible for the SNAP program can quality.
Presidential hopefuls Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren each have their own ideas about helping our future prosper. Mr. Booker’s Baby Bond, which would give every child a nest egg and Ms. Warren wants to provide every parent with childcare. Neither mention school lunch programs, but I’m pretty sure they will weigh in on this topic fairly soon.
Give The Kids A Break
The point of this long rant, we should not put more stress on our kids than they already have. Remember your childhood? I’m talking to the Gen-X’ers and Baby Boomers, compared to what kids go through today, our childhood was a cakewalk!! We didn’t have to worry about guns, online bullying, or gender-neutral bathrooms. Our children are the future and we should treat that precious resource with as much love and affection as possible. Let them enjoy their childhood for as long as possible. We all know how much being an adult can suck.