Poor kids in N.M. schools forced to eat cold cheese sandwiches when parents can't pay

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posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 01:46 PM
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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.





I do realize that school systems and states in general are suffering from budget shortfalls and in serious need of cost cutting measures. However, in this instance Im not sure this is the right approach to saving a few bucks.

Doesn't it seem wrong to single out and humiliate elementary age school children because of the inability of the parents to pay? Yes I know what many heartless types will say, they are deadbeats and as such deserve no sympathy.

But isn't that the whole point here? Does it not fall on the parent to shoulder the blame for not having the ability to pay? Isnt it a bit cruel and unusual to humiliate young children for the short comings of the parent?

Can you imagine the ridicule that a youngster would face, being singled out and pulled aside in front of an entire cafeteria full of their peers and forced to eat a welfare cheese sandwich in shame.


I can see the point of view of the school officials on one hand because yes, parents should pay their fair share of the cost. But on the other hand I feel bad for thse children and see them as an innocent victim here. No doubt the stigma attached for a young child to be mocked in such a way will carry over to their adult lives.

Couldn't they find a better way to handle the problem than resorting to public humiliation of the children?

[edit on 2/25/09 by BlackOps719]



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posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:16 PM
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Here in Holland it is very normal for kids to bring their own sandwiches from home to school for lunch. Sandwiches, fruit and milk does not sound like a unhealthy meal. I think its better then some of the school junkfood they serve.
At many many places in the world kids dont bring any food with them to school, in fact there might not even be a school at all.

Just my two cents.


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posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:16 PM
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This doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. What's wrong with a cheese sandwich? I used to eat them on a daily basis when I was in elementary school, heck I used to bring them myself. I honestly think if they're getting any food at all they should be grateful for it. I mean it sucks that their parents can't afford to pay for their food, but that's life. If my family couldn't afford to pay for my school lunch, then i'd be pretty damn thankful the school system could provide one for me. Heck i'd be more thankful of the fact that it's not a greasy slice of pizza and french fries that the rest of the kids get.



posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:21 PM
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When I was in the school system working as a teacher the cold sandwiches was usually served a few times during the month to save the school money.

So I don't get it, I guess in NM it seems like something new, but trust me here in Ga they do it all the time.

BTW this so sad that when I was growing up back in the 70s we were given a hot home made meal everyday for lunch paid by the government and this was in my Island of PR.

They used to cook just like my mom at home.


Now is nothing but garbage what they serve the kids in school.

Pizza, fries, dry soy burgers and chicken nuggets.


[edit on 25-2-2009 by marg6043]



posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:24 PM
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What is wrong with cheese sandwiches, fruit, and milk. Their parents are delinquent on their accounts, they should be lucky they are getting anything at all. It would be real easy for the school system to not feed them at all.

I'm sure a lot these kids are mad because their friends are eating all the junk food and they get a cheese sandwich, but tough luck they should be lucky they are getting anything.

The way I feel is that for as much taxes as we pay they should get all free meals to begin with. Everybody gets the same thing. That is the way it used to be then, they came up with the idea to give our kids choices and make them pay for it.

I say if your going to school on our dime everybody gets the same thing to eat.



posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:27 PM
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Being from Albuquerque and still living in the surroundnig area, no it is not that uncommon and i completelty support them doing it. Cheese sandwhiches are quite common through out. It just parents complaining because they are no longer able to take a free ride. And trust me in NM its like every where you turn everyone is taking a free ride.



posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:27 PM
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My school did basically the same thing but it was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You got milk also. At least the school is still providing for the students. I don't see anything wrong with the N.M. school providing a cheese sandwich unless it is that fake sliced junk.

Public humiliation?

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.



posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:28 PM
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No, it doesn't seem wrong. I grew up in Southern NM. In elementary school, I remember the teachers right before lunch pulling out a list and a handfull of tickets and calling up kids by name to take their lunch ticket. These were welfare kids getting their tax payer paid for lunch stub. I remember more than once forgetting to grab my $1 on my way out the door and ending up going without a lunch. Now, I provide those two stories to say this... they eliminated the "in front of everyone" ticket handout because it supposedly "humiliated" the poor kids. Strange thing, I don't ever remember anyone making fun of or even saying anything negative to those kids, nor do I recall them acting like it was some sort of embarassment. Also, I don't recall any negative side effects from going without lunch. I'm 6'4" and weigh 320 lbs... if going without lunch stunted my growth, then I want reparations from the school for crushing my hopes of being a pro wrestler, NBA center, or body double for Godzilla.

Nothing wrong with a cheese sandwich at all. I love them, and still have them for lunch myself at times. If having deadbeat parents is shamefull to these kids, then I say that's a great thing! Maybe it means they'll try to break the cycle and not be deadbeats themselves. If they saw it with no shame, then it would probably mean the fruit isn't falling far from the tree. Furthermore, why in the hell should tax dollars be used to feed these kids, anyway? WE AREN'T TALKING ABOUT POVERTY STRICKEN CHILDREN HERE. The kids who's parents are truly poor get subsidised lunches. We're talking about kids whose parents are making a concious decision not to pay their fair share for their child's dietary needs.



posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:32 PM
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I dont necesarrily disagree with what they are doing and I fully understand why they are doing it, I just hate the fact that these kids will be singled out and as such ridiculed by the other kids.

It sucks being a poor kid surrounded by other children who have nice clothes and new things, things are hard enough for poor kids without them being yanked out of lunch lined and belittled and forced to eat a government cheese sandwich all because mom and dad are struggling.

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.



posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:32 PM
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reply to post by marg6043
 


Heh heh... my NM school's lunches were God awful. Not to be gross, but I always marveled at how they smelled the same on their way out the next day as the caffeteria had smells the previous day at lunch. 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.



posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:32 PM
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reply to post by staple
 


You are right the do serve peanut butter sandwiches also, how can I forget about that one.

I think all schools do that to save money.



posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:33 PM
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why would they give them cold cheese sandwiches ? What do they think the USA is ? Socialist?



posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:34 PM
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Originally posted by staple

Public humiliation?

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.





Yeah...I dont know where you grew up and went to school, but in my school kids were picked on about anything different. If you wore crappy shoes or your parents couldnt afford nice clothes then you probably got dogged for it.

Being pulled out of a lunch line in a crowded cafeteria and made to eat welfare cheese wont get you picked on? Really? We must be from two very different backgrounds then.



posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:34 PM
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I went to school in the 80's and lunch was not provided for anybody. You brought your own lunch or went home for lunch. Lunch was always a COLD sandwich, piece of fruit and juice or milk.



posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:36 PM
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reply to post by burdman30ott6
 


I tell you I will not touch the school lunches they serve now a days for anything in the world, I rather starve.

like I said when I was growing up the smells coming out of the school cafeteria when I was in school will make you mouth water.

The school cafeteria in my Island actually cook everything from scratch or almost from scratch.

Beans, rice, meat and desert all to match the Island typical diet, I still remember those meals and they were free for everybody.



posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:37 PM
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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.


1. How could they do this? The alternatives are giving the kid something clearly different than what everyone else is getting or giving them the same lunch and continuing the cycle of financial loss. It's not like they can mold and form a cheese sandwhich into looking exactly like the meatloaf, spaghetti, or chili dog the other kids are getting.

2. Don't knock the 'guvment' cheese, my friend. We recieved it when I was 6 and my dad lost his job thanks to the effects of Carter's recession. Again, strangely I remember it tasting really great and have good memories of it. (The welfare peanut butter was a different story entirely. Stuff tasted like dirt paste.)



posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:37 PM
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Be glad that there is food to eat at all.

People in some other parts of the world would be incredulous at some of the things Americans complain about.



posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:38 PM
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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.


I personally loved and i mean loved the rectangle pizzas with the square pepperonis!! still crave those!! put some hot sauce on them and bada bing!!



posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:39 PM
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Perhaps they should freshly make the sandwiches, or at least keep them under heat lamps. Perhaps a bit of protien. other than that, it sounds like a pretty balanced meal. The kids probably don't like it because they're more than likely raised on a diet of fast food, so their body can't handle something that's not loaded with fats and sugars. I give that district a
. Good cost effective solution, now they just need to be a little nicer to the kids and make sure it's warm.



posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 02:41 PM
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reply to post by burdman30ott6
 




I guess this is just another example of hard times hitting close to home. And again I understand the reasoning behind it, it just seems like they are using it as a pinishment for kids who are poor through no fault of their own.


And yes the welfare peanut butter does suck. Not even good on toast.





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