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Are Students Entitled to Free Lunches Just Because?
April 9, 2013 at 7:49 AM

When I was in public school, you had three choices for lunch.  Pay for lunch at the school cafeteria, bring your lunch from home or go hungry.  The school was not responsible for feeding a student who forgets their lunch or didn’t have money to buy one.

It was called ‘responsibility.’  Students and their parents were supposed to be responsible for providing for themselves.  For most of my public school days, I got up early enough to fix my own lunch.  The days I felt lazy and too tired to pack my own lunch, I went hungry.  I was responsible for my lunch, not the school.  Whenever I was given money to buy lunch at the school cafeteria, I thought I was living the good life.

In today’s world of entitlements and liberal sociology, it seems that it’s everyone’s responsibility to provide for a student when they and their parents fail to do so.  Students are no longer being taught responsibility and evidently, neither are their parents.

Case in point is what happened at Coelho Middle School in Attleboro, Massachusetts.  The school covers grades 5 through 8.  On Tuesday, the school denied lunch to as many as 25 students because they could not pay for the meal or their pre-paid lunch cards were out of funds.  Some students in the cafeteria line received their food, but when they got to the cash register, they were told that they could not eat it because of lack of funds.  In most cases, the meals were tossed in the garbage, because they had already been served and could not be put back according to health codes.

It was reported that some students actually cried when they were denied a free lunch.  One parent reported that her son offered to share his lunch with a girl in line with him who began crying when she was told to dump hers because of lack of funds.  Another parent, John Greaves was incensed that his daughter was told to throw her lunch away because she had no way of paying for it.  He said that people in prison get fed but that his honor student daughter was going hungry.

Whitson’s Culinary Group is the company that runs the school cafeteria.  The local site director for Coelho Middle School was placed on administrative leave because of what happened.  Pia Durkin, school superintendent said that the cafeteria workers failed to follow policy of providing a cheese sandwich and glass of milk to any student that can’t pay for a lunch.  She promised that no student will ever go hungry again.

So what does all this teach the students?  When you can’t pay your own way or not responsible enough to pay, you should expect the system to pay and provide for you.  If John Greaves was so upset because his honor student went hungry, I question to him is why didn’t you provide your honor student with the funds to pay for her lunch like a responsibly parent should?  Where does he get off expecting the school to do be responsible when he’s not?

The school district says that they currently have a deficit of $1,800 for delinquent student accounts.  At a time when so many school districts have to make drastic financial cuts including laying off teachers, every dollar is precious.  I hate to see kids go hungry, but blame the parents and the students, not the school.  If the parents don’t have the money for the cafeteria lunches, then they should see that their kids pack a lunch like millions of us have done for years.



  • Veni.Vidi.Vici.
    April 9, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    Our district actually rallies together to donate to our lunch program. All of the students eat regardless of whether or not they can pay or forgot their lunch money etc. Lunch money accts. that are 'delinquent' may actually be an oversight or a result of an understaffed district. Just to name two.

  • jessilin0113
    April 9, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    I have no problems with making sure all children get fed.

  • GeekMommi
    April 9, 2013 at 8:03 AM

    We have something called compassion nowadays that people should value just as much as any other virtue. As a Christian woman, what do you think Jesus would say about yours? Where is your compassion? Schools need to start prioritizing better for sure. For instance at my kids school, we don't need as many lab tops as they want and the kids don't need an iPad to learn either. They do need food.

  • jehosoba84
    April 9, 2013 at 8:06 AM

     I agree with the sentiment of the OP, but these children have not been raised with the 'I'm responsible for myself' mentality, so I do feel sorry for them. Not so much for their parents.

  • Woodbabe
    April 9, 2013 at 8:06 AM

    When you step back and examine this issue on a higher level, providing a lunch makes much more sense. On a basic level a hungry child cannot learn, and they're going to be disruptive to the learning environment for everyone else. On the broader level, a country cannot move forward without educating its children...its what sets us apart from second and third world countries. If we don't have an educated population, people can't work and contribute to society. 

  • coolmommy2x
    April 9, 2013 at 8:08 AM
    I agree that the parents, not the school, should be held accountable. Making sure your child had a lunch or lunch money isn't rocket science. I understand that every once in awhile it can slip your mind but it seems as if "forgetting" has become commonplace (since it keeps popping up in the news). That is not acceptable.
  • mommy2boys03
    April 9, 2013 at 8:09 AM

    My question is how many times have these students been warned that they have no funds.  I know my children's school tells them when they have money less than one meal  and once after that before saying the student can't have hot lunch.  At the beginning of each year they are fighting with parents for at least 3 weeks to get the paperwork in for the free lunch program.  The problem might not be as clear cut as this was reported.  I agree that the parents have some responsiblity in this.

  • Kmary
    by Kmary
    April 9, 2013 at 8:12 AM

    Not everything is about entitlement or being deserving.  Sometimes it's just the right thing to do, the compassionate thing to do to make sure kids get fed.  My brother works in a poorer elementary school and many of his Kindergarteners have told him that on non-school days they pretty much don't eat.  Is it inherently in the school's responsibility to feed kids?  Nope.  Should we strive to do it anyway?  Yes!

    With all that said, though, I don't really have a huge problem with how the school handled this particular situation.  One day without lunch will not starve a child and perhaps the parents will have a wake up call to take care of their school lunch bill or at least contact the school and make some arrangments if they can't pay that very second.  I like that schools provide breakfast and lunch for needy students.  What I don't care for is the constant complaining regarding what is in the lunches, how the school handles lunches, etc.  I guess it's a "beggars shouldn't be choosers" thing. 

  • GeekMommi
    April 9, 2013 at 8:12 AM
    You have no idea what some else has been through or how they feel.

    Quoting jehosoba84:

     I agree with the sentiment of the OP, but these children have not been raised with the 'I'm responsible for myself' mentality, so I do feel sorry for them. Not so much for their parents.

  • christina0607
    April 9, 2013 at 8:14 AM

    Honestly it was time something had been done. Some of these kids were 20-30-even 40 dollars in debt to the school. Which in turn was a debt to whitsons. 

    These parents who are complaining to the media that their kids weren't fed should be asking themselves why they caused that. 


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