The not-so-free lunch

My nephew attends Vance Elementary. At the beginning of school, they sent home a form for free/reduced lunches. It was filled out and sent back in. His family is on Food Stamps, so the approval for free lunch was a given. Or so we thought.

At the end of August, a note [was sent] home with him. It stated that if he continued to charge lunches, [their total could] not exceed $5, and action at that point would be “cheese sandwiches” for lunch. He continued to have lunch on his free-lunch [basis], but there came no approval. [Then] he came home from school telling the family he was denied breakfast and was offered a cheese sandwich for lunch: no mayo and no mustard, just cheese.

When did we start forgetting about nutrition and a warm meal? I thought NCKIDS [participants] didn’t go hungry. If money is owed, take it up with the parents—not the kids.

— Amy Gilman

Vance Elementary Principal Cynthia Sellinger responds: Parents are given 15 school days to get the free/reduced lunch application in and processed. Until [then], the child can eat [based on] last year’s application status. If they did not have this year’s application in, they were changed to a “paying” student. If the student was [on] “paying” status at the time of the charge and later is [classified as] a “free” student, we cannot … get reimbursement from the federal government. They allow for no wait time. The school has paid for lunch charges in previous years that equaled over $150. This is money that could have been used for student activities and supplies.

The cheese sandwich is policy, and several schools resort to this when the charges are $5 or more. We send out letters to parents repeatedly each week until the charges are paid.

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35 thoughts on “The not-so-free lunch

  1. lokel

    How much food is thrown away each day system wide?

    And these idiots are denying children what might be their only hot meals of the day!

    Perhaps the schools should make information available to the community as to how many students can’t afford the meals and maybe folks would come forward to help.

    What are these kids given to drink H2o?

  2. travelah

    Pack a lunch with some of those food stamp supplies … what in the world is wrong with these entitlement focused people???

  3. chalkbox

    No kidding. Plan ahead, budget and buy for the week or month. My family of four makes it on a carpenters pay by planning ahead. Or maybe, we could place a school lunch tax on the Ellington.

  4. Clocky

    I feel very sorry for these children.

    They’re the real losers in this mess.

    The children who come to school without a lunch and without lunch money are usually coming from homes where there are a lot of problems.

    The parents are at fault here, obviously. The public school workers I know are very kind and compassionate people. They want the best for these kids. If the child is going to school without lunch and without lunch money, I am inclined to think that that the school workers are treating this child with greater care than he ever gets at home.

    If the kid eats a cheese sandwich for lunch, he’s not going to starve. It is food. Nutrition-wise, it’s probably not much different than the all-time classic favorite school lunch item: cheese pizza.

    as for lokel’s comment “What are these kids given to drink H2o?” — well, water would be the very best thing for them to drink.

  5. Lori

    I wonder how many school lunches we could buy with the $46 BILLION the President wants for the war efforts? None of our children should be hungry. Ever.

  6. travelah

    Lori, How many lunches can you buy if you dig into your own pocket? I do not mean that in a condescending manner but how many people implore the government to do what they themselves are unwilling to do even when capable?

  7. Lori

    But the money the government has IS ours. Did you forget that it’s the taxpayers that they get that money from? We should have a say in how it’s spent…and we do, it’s called voting.

  8. travelah

    Lori, no, the government’s revenues are not “our” money. You have no right to claim any of it. You also have no say in how it is spent. That job is taken by the people you vote into office. We live in a constitutional republic and not an absolute democracy.

    Now, why is it you are not willing to go into your own pocket to address the concerns you have? The school has claimed it spent $150 in previous years to pay for lunches. Thats a pretty petty amouont is it not? So, perhaps the easiest thing for you to do is dip into your pocket and take care of this petty matter yourself. That way the children get their lunches, you can feel better knowing they are being fed and there is no waiting on beaucratic tape to unwind or engaging in protests over $40B in military spending to solve a $150 problem. Now, take this solution across the city with other citizens stepping up and the problem is resolved!

  9. Lori

    Didn’t I just say we vote to control how the money is spent?

    ‘We should have a say in how it’s spent…and we do, it’s called voting.’

    Yep I did. And contrary to what you say, that money IS ours. It’s our country, our politicians and our decisions we make at the voting booths. Yes, I can pay the $150. But what about the next school? All the schools across the country, am I to pay that too? I take the $150 from my pocket whilst ‘they’ use the tax money we all pay in every year to have dinner parties and vacation in TX. Just what should that money be spent on if not raising happy, well-adjusted American children? Cow fart studies and war?? Seems like we need a different point of view…..

  10. travelah

    Lori, no you do not vote to control how money is spent. Tell me the last time you voted for or against an appropriations bill? The obvious answer is never.

    Am I right in stating that you would rather just leave it to the politicians rather than dip into your own pocket to resolve a small problem that is disheartening to you? I do not think you paid attention to what I wrote. If other like minded souls did the same thing all over the city, the problem of children going “hungry” at school would go away. That rests on the false assumption they are going hungry in the first place given that they receive a cheese sandwich rather than a bag of air. Nonetheless, if this is a hot button issue for you, step up and put your money where your supposed convictions are instead of engaging the red herring of military spending and tax payer funded vacations and parties.

  11. Lori

    Does your mayor spend tax money, does your senator, governor, and president? Of course they decide how tax payer dollars are spent and WE vote them into office. That is of course what I meant when I said we decide how tax money is spent. We choose who to vote for, thereby agreeing to that candidate (and/or his/her party), and their choice of how to best spend the tax payer dollar. Obviously we have a disagreement on how the government is funded. I will never believe that our government shouldn’t have social programs to support it’s citizens. Obviously you disagree and that’s fine. I am done participating in a conversation with someone who can’t admit the government has spent us into poverty. Can you tell me where a $300+ TRILLION deficit came from? Is that red-herring enough for you? And as for me reaching in my pocket, I can put my money where my mouth is…seems like yours is running pretty well too. I say I’ll send in $150 if YOU will…can you hear me now?? Let’s send it into MountainXpress and let them dole it out to the school…Or are you just full of advice you can’t take?

  12. travelah

    Lori, I am already doing what I suggest however not for paying for school lunches. Thats your issue not mine. Instead I contribute offerings to The Voice of the Martyrs, Samaritans Purse and various local church groups who are funding community outreach efforts in this area and abroad. You can contribute as well if you wish.

    My point in this is that Federal spending and Federal programs are not the solution for every problem that pops up in our community and beyond. I maintain a cheese sandwich is better than going hungry. You prefer something else. Now that you have half committed yourself to dipping into your own pocket, go ahead and follow through. If anything at all, you will at least feel better about yourself for having done something for the community without turning to the Federal or State Government. In a word it’s called local charity and it’s far more effective than any Federal Government program ever could be. (the Ron Paul folks should like that).

  13. Hopefully

    The education and nutrition of our children shouldn’t have to depend on one of your bake sales travelah. After all, they are the future of our country and the responsibility of all of us. It appears to me you engage in argument simply for the sake of winning, with no regard for getting to the truth of a matter. Just because you drown out everyone else doesn’t mean you are right! Lori made a valid point, either add something to the conversation, or join a debate team…

  14. travelah

    light&hope;, maturity comes with age and with that a better grasp of the issues at hand. It will come to you as well in time.

    How did you arrive at “bake sales” frm anything I wrote? Perhaps you are practicing your peculiar form of “commentary”. I would be interested to know what you believe you added to the conversation in any event.

  15. Hopefully

    It’s YOUR inability to recognize an addition to the conversation thats at issue here. The “bake sales” reference came from your pointing out your favorite charitable organizations.(

    Hey dude, that Raygun million points of light-trickledown B.S. has been largely discredited. He was a senile old greedster and a terrible actor. Kinder, gentler machinegun hand indeed!
    How predictable, first you comment on my age and maturity, then you demonstrate your cluelessness by having to ask for a clarification. What I added to the conversation is my belief that federal programs have solved, do solve, and will continue to solve many problems. If you choose to ignore this just for the sake of argument, you have proven my point! As for the issue at hand, our political system is a mess because of people like you who consider winning and staying in power more important than doing the right thing for the american people.

  16. amy Ocana

    I’m laughing while reading. What is not funny is that my child had the lunch tray out of his hand because he did not have 1.50 to pay for his lunch. He forgot his lunch money in the morning rushing out for school. I’m sure its happened to plenty of us in one way or the other. My child was not even offered a cheese sandwich with no mayo “just cheese”. No phone call stating hey we fed your child u owe 1.50. No note sent home. Just a child saying he didnt eat. I am very involved in my childs education and respond immediately when there is a problem with my child. There is such a thing as a 1st time courtesy? Isnt there?

  17. travelah

    light&hope;, I think your post reinforces my earlier point. The two organizations I mentioned have nothing to do with bake sales.

    Dip into your pocket (and not mine) instead of whining about the lack of a federal program to address your favorite pet issue. For that matter, there is already a sufficient federal program for “hot lunch”. It has worked well for several decades now.

    As for charity being ineffective, how do you arrive at the notion that Federal charity is sufficent where private citizen initiated charity is not? I would like to see your evidence that private charity has been largly discredited.

  18. Hopefully

    I was speaking of reaganomics…perhaps you could get a job in the school cafeteria taking lunches away from children.

  19. travelah

    I realize you were referring to President Reagan in your post. I am an avid supporter of what you refer to as Reaganomics. Our economy has been flourishing ever since (aside from two economic corrections). I would like to see your evidence for your implication that Reagan or any conservative took away “hot lunch”. I do recall the media generated flap concerning catsup being classified as a vegetable and how Reagan was villified in the press as one taking something away from the kids. The truth of the matter is that Federal rules required a vegetable to be offered, a rule that was established before school cafeterias began serving “fast food” ie. burgers and fries at the insistence of the kids themselves. Not knowing if you are a vegan or not, surely you must realize that “most” people do not order a side of green beans with their burger and fries and to force that upon kids at school would only increase the food waste being disposed of daily (more money out of my pocket for no reason).

    Now why would I want to take school lunches away from children?

  20. travelah

    … oh … and I forgot to add, young ‘un, the million points of whatever was actually a thousand points of light and that was a George H.W. Bush thing and not Ronald Reagan (although your Raygun quip pretty much indicated who you were referring to).

  21. Hopefully

    Don’t you mean rabid supporter? Yeah, yeah I get it mr. debater, guns before butter, profit over people, I got mine , so screw you, etc. etc.

  22. Hopefully

    Loaded pistols are good for everyone except inmates in prisons or lunatic asylums.

    That’s correct.

    Millions spent on public health are inflationary.

    That’s correct.

    Billions spent on weapons will bring inflation down.

    That’s correct.

    Dictatorships to the right are much closer to American ideals than dictatorships to the left.

    That’s correct.

    The more hydrogen bomb warheads we have, all set to go off at a moment’s notice, the safer humanity is and the better off the world will be that our grandchildren will inherit.

    That’s correct.

    Industrial wastes, and especially those that are radioactive, hardly ever hurt anybody, so everybody should shut up about them.

    That’s correct.

    Industries should be allowed to do whatever they want to do: bribe, wreck the environment just a little, fix prices, screw dumb customers, put a stop to competition, and raid the Treasury when they go broke.

    That’s correct.

    That’s free enterprise.

    And that’s correct.

    The poor have done something very wrong or they wouldn’t be poor, so their children should pay the consequences.

    That’s correct.

    The United States of America cannot be expected to look after its own people.

    That’s correct.

    The free market will do that.

    That’s correct.

    The free market is an automatic system of justice.

    That’s correct.

    I’m kidding.

    Kurt Vonnegut 2006

  23. travelah

    Guns allow butter to continue to spread when anti-butter people try to take it away. People earn profits which allow them to continue making and buying butter. I got mine by helping others get theirs. No screwing involved unless it was by consent. Hopefully in your schooling you will learn the importance of differentiating between avid support and rabid.

    (Vonngut was a great author, not always right, but a great author nonetheless)

  24. Hopefully

    Who are the anti-butter people…Parkay? Are we talking about needing guns to protect ourselves from margarine lovers? This deranged analogy is just one more example of your muddled win the debate at any cost mentallity!
    And there you go again with the sexist remarks and references to my age! As for my schooling, we are learning the difference between real human beings and souless amoral moneygrubbing greedsters who cloak their lack of humanity in things like reagonomics…Perhaps you should go back to school!(and leave those kid’s lunches alone)

  25. travelah

    In other words, you are not getting a well rounded classical education for all your effort. (I missed the sexist remark … can you point it out?)

  26. Nam Vet

    “Pack a lunch with some of those food stamp supplies … what in the world is wrong with these entitlement focused people???”

    Well said. When I was in school, most students brought their lunch from home. Myself included. If the entitlement-spoiled parents cannot get their paperwork in, then I don’t blame the school at all.

    And for the people here who do not understand economics and personal responsibility in this country, why don’t YOU go over to the school and pay for his lunch.

  27. Hopefully

    Travelah, there is nothing well rounded about you. If you believe in raygunomics, you obviously didn’t get much of an education. Thankfully, you will be dead and gone in ten or twenty years. Without people lke you around, we have a chance of defeating facism. Here are the warning signs.

    (or the republican playbook)
    1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.
    >From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.

    2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.
    The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

    3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.
    The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the peoples attention from other problems, to shift blame forfailures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choicerelentless propaganda and disinformationwere usually effective. Often the regimes would incite spontaneous acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, andterrorists. Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.

    4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.
    Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

    5. Rampant sexism.
    Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

    6. A controlled mass media.
    Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes excesses.

    7. Obsession with national security.
    Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting national security, and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

    8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.
    Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elites behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug.

    Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the godless. A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

    9. Power of corporations protected.
    Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of have-not citizens.

    10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.
    Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.

    11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.
    Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal.

    Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.

    12. Obsession with crime and punishment.
    Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. Normal and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or traitors was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

    13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.
    Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

    14. Fraudulent elections.
    Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating an disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

    Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.

    When facism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the American flag.

    – Huey Long

  28. Nam Vet

    Good job Travelah. I see you notice we are ignoring the troll L&H;…Left & Hate. :) That is the only way to respond to a troll. Ignore them.

    On thread, if a parent is too lazy to fill out the forms, then they deserve what they get. Hopefully the child will like cheese sandwiches until his mom gets off her coach, turns off Jerry Springer, and fills out the form for the taxpayer funded lunch at school. Ya gotta give a little to get a little. :)

  29. Hopefully

    On thread: if a parent is too lazy to fill out a form, then the child deserves to be punished?! You and your merry band of grinches (is that too strong a word) can put your head in the sand and ignore the world, but it still exists. I know that I can’t write anything that is going to change your minds, but at least I can call you on your B.S. Sorry I play too rough for you girls…

  30. travelah

    Nam, she is an example of what passes for education in our country today and represents what the good people in Asheville just voted against. Keep up the good work!

  31. Hopefully

    And what did the “bad people” of Asheville vote for, intelligent and progressive ideas? Old coots have bemoaned the younger generation since the beginning of time. The future is coming, like it or not! Just remember, at some point you will be old and helpless and at the mercy of other people. Better hope its a caring, intelligent liberal and not someone like yourself who would give you peanut butter sandwiches and only change your diaper once a day. My point is , we are all dependant upon one another. Remember the golden rule!!!

  32. Amy Ocana

    I agree with u light&hope;. Nam, u assume all kids who dont get lunch or get cheese sandwiches are because their parents are too lazy to fill out a form or they are on food stamps. Some of us actually pay taxes and give our child money for lunch. unfortunately u have idiots who decide they dont like a child for some reason or another and deny them food as punishment. Sounds like child neglect to me. After my first posting the school decided to not give my child breakfast even though he had money in his pocket. Then was denied a phone call home to inform his parents. This is the BS that is going on in the school whether U have food stamps or are a taxpayer!!!

  33. quotequeen

    As a child I understood how to give; I have forgotten this grace since I became civilized.
    ~ Ohiyesa, Sioux

  34. Nam Vet

    “As a child of God I understood howto give; I have forgotten this grace since becoming a liberal democrat.”

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