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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A cold cheese sandwich, fruit and a milk carton might not seem like much of a meal — but that's what's on the menu for students in New Mexico's largest school district without their lunch money.
Faced with mounting unpaid lunch charges in the economic downturn, Albuquerque Public Schools last month instituted a "cheese sandwich policy," serving the alternative meals to children whose parents are supposed to be able to pay for some or all of their regular meals but fail to pick up the tab.
Such policies have become a necessity for schools seeking to keep budgets in the black while ensuring children don't go hungry. School districts including those in Chula Vista, Calif.; Hillsborough County, Fla.; and Lynnwood, Wash.; have also taken to serving cheese sandwiches to children with delinquent lunch accounts.
Critics argue the cold meals are a form of punishment for children whose parents can't afford to pay. Parents who qualify for free meals are not affected.
"We've heard stories from moms coming in saying their child was pulled out of the lunch line and given a cheese sandwich," said Nancy Pope, director of the New Mexico Collaborative to End Hunger. "One woman said her daughter never wants to go back to school."
Some Albuquerque parents have tearfully pleaded with school board members to stop singling out their children because they're poor, while others have flooded talk radio shows thanking the district for imposing a policy that commands parental responsibility.
Second-grader Danessa Vigil said she will never eat sliced cheese again. She had to eat cheese sandwiches because her mother couldn't afford to give her lunch money while her application for free lunch was being processed.
"Every time I eat it, it makes me feel like I want to throw up," the 7-year-old said.
Originally posted by staple
That is a long shot there. Kids don't care about that stuff. I think you might be projection how you would feel and that is confusing. The kids are going to eat and go play.
Kids don't have a prejudices until they learn them from adults.
Originally posted by BlackOps719
Couldnt they at least have a little bit more tact or discretion when dealing with young kids? These things may not seem like a big deal for us as adults, but when you are an 8 year old being laughed at all day long because you are one of the poor kids who has to eat the welfare cheese, then it isnt quite as much fun.
Strangely, the one item I loved then and still crave when I think about it was the breaded chicken patties. "Chicken pucks" we called them... for something that looked so unappetizing and had the consistancy of rawhide, something in them sure tasted good.