photo by PinkMoose–Creative Commons/flickr
On Friday’s we’ve been devoting this space to childhood hunger as a reminder that there are kids whose primary nutritional needs are served by the school lunch program, who are often hungry on the the weekends.
Walt Kelly, cartoonist famed for creating the legendary American comic strip character “Pogo” is known for writing the phrase, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” To that point, I’m reminded of a story from last year of how systems, processes and protocols that we have in place live up to this oddly accurate “pogopossum” philosophy.
True story: (names withheld for obvious reasons)
A child in our school system was going through the lunch line and picked out his meal, he arrives at the end of the line and according to district policy the cashier states. “I’m sorry, you don’t have enough money in your account,” sadly takes the tray away from the child and tosses the food into the trashcan and hands over a sack lunch; a white bread sandwich of processed cheese and a small fruit juice, and some kids might get lucky and get chips too.
What on earth?
Okay, I get that there are some folks that forget to fund their lunch accounts, really I get it, but to toss out decent food in exchange for a less balanced option is pretty unsettling to me. Not to mention wasteful. You see, we’re watching food become a far different story in society today. In more cases than not, we’re transitioning from luxury to livelihood and that’s because hunger is reaching people it has never touched before. Okay, so what can we do about this?
I’d like to think we can look into and get beyond the systems and policies we have in place. Look at how they run on the frontline and think of ways that make the most common sense, despite wherever our kids stand in line or how much or little they have in their account.
We also need to look at what our children are being fed. Here’s an example of a breakfast menu. French toast and syrup or cinnamon roll, fruit cup and chocolate milk. It’s no wonder our children are having difficulty learning when I see them drinking sugar fortified milk, syrup soaked fruit and simple carbs for breakfast. I can hear the teachers now, “Okay kids, sit down and stop climbing the walls and learn…it’s impossible.”
So if your PTO/PTA or local businesses asks what we should focus on this year, here’s your answer. Focus on nutritious, balanced food programs and backpack programs that will help our kids learn, live better and stay healthy.
Please share ideas on what you do or what you think we can do for our kids?