Like many of you, I have seen the stories that go viral of what happens when a student doesn't have the money for their school lunch or their parents owe money for school lunch. It can be humiliating for the child and not fair that many are forced to go without food because of something that is beyond their personal control. Every child should be allowed to eat without being humiliated and the school should take up the issue with the parents privately. The final straw was a story about a child who had her school lunch thrown in the trash by a cafeteria worker because she owed $0.15 from the previous school year.
Fifteen Cents??? So you trash her lunch and make her go hungry for that? When she came back the next day with $0.25 to pay off the balance, all of the sudden she did not owe anything. Ridiculous.
It is not just that story but countless other stories that many of you have seen. There is even a name for it, lunch shaming. Per the New York Times
- "Holding children publicly accountable for unpaid school lunch bills — by throwing away their food, providing a less desirable alternative lunch or branding them with markers — is often referred to as “lunch shaming.”
The practice is widespread — a 2014 report from the Department of Agriculture
found that nearly half of all districts used some form of shaming to compel parents to pay bills. (About 45 percent withheld the hot meal and gave a cold sandwich, while 3 percent denied food entirely.)A Pennsylvania cafeteria worker posted on Facebook that she had quit after being forced to take lunch from a child with an unpaid bill. In Alabama, a child was stamped on the arm with “I Need Lunch Money .” On one day, a Utah elementary school threw away the lunches of about 40 students with unpaid food bills.
It would mean a great deal if we all came together to help in paying it forward and randomly paying off the school lunch debts. In certain parts of the US, schools are already back in session and in others, schools will be back in session soon.
My goal here is to do my part to make sure that kids are not going hungry or being publicly humiliated by adults for something they cannot fix on their own. If we are being honest here, we know how tough it can be for some kids and kids can get picked on or bullied for that. It doesn't necessarily mean the parents don't have the money, it could be any number of things that could cause something like this to happen. An example in the video below.
My goal to start is to pay off unpaid lunch debts of at least 20 schools depending on how high the debt is and how much is raised. So I am hoping that is people will act fast so that we can help as many kids as possible so that no other child is humiliated at school or forced to go without food as the new school year starts. In 2016, the School Nutrition Association published a review of almost 1,000 school lunch programs, finding that nearly 75 percent of districts had unpaid meal debt. The School Nutrition Association also reports some districts have debts as high as $4.7 million a year. So obviously the need is vast but we can do our part to help eliminate that!
Here is where I am going to start and of course if you know of other school districts or schools that could benefit from this please list them in the comments.
My initial school districts to start with are below, but need more recommendations from You! With more money raised we can have an even greater impact.
Fort Bend School District
San Diego Unified School District HOW YOU CAN HELP TODAY:
1) Please GIVE
what you can. No donation is too small.
on social media.
this page - https://www.gofundme.com/pay-off-school-lunch-debts
to your family and friends. Let's make this go viral!
Your help will make this possible! Thank you for taking the time to read this far and for your donation and support! Let's come together and Rock THIS!