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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 @ 04:23 PM
They do the same thing at my son's school, they have to be very much behind on their account to have to have a cheese sandwich though.

They usually give them about 12 dollars worth of credit before making them eat sandwiches.

He kept forgetting to give them the money I sent with him and got stuck eating a cheese sandwich one day, he has not forgotten since!

The requirements for the reduced fee lunch program are not that high, and if you are truly having problems paying 1.50 a day for your child's lunch than you likely should be within the income levels that would allow you to get the reduced fee.
For a family of 4 the level is just below 40,000 a year, which in our area is not what I would consider poor.

If not then certainly you can send a lunch to avoid this problem in the first place.

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 04:29 PM
If the parents of the child isn't going to provide the meal either by purchasing, or providing the bag lunch...Then any sandwich of modest nutritional value and a suitable beverage and or fruit seems fine to me.

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 04:31 PM
The headline uses the word "Forced." That's pretty funny (not ha ha funny) considering they still have the choice to not eat it.

I will respectfully disagree that it is punishment for those children, and I believe it is definitely not for their parents. The cost of a cheese sandwich is less than a chicken sandwich. These school districts are awesome enough to cut costs where they can and may even be saving a teacher's job, and thus, the childrens education.

However, my mind is not closed. I look forward to seeing how this thread progresses.

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 04:34 PM
That figures!
We sure can come up with the money to bail out
mismanaged and failed banks though, can't we!
Wonder what the disgustingly rich eat?
Oh, it makes me proud.

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 04:38 PM
When I was in high school, which was awhile ago, families who couldn't afford school lunches received free lunches. They would get a card that would get stamped out for each day of the week.

I thought it was like this everywhere...guess I was wrong.

Maybe it's a state by state thing.

Either way the kids are singled out though. I never though much of it, heck I used to envy them because I had to pay for my lunches with my own money and they got their lunch for free.. My parents quit doing it for me when they found out I was smoking. Had to use my own cash.

Lesson learned.

I also would get pissed when I'd see other students get BRAND NEW cars that their parents bought for them after getting their driver license. Meanwhile I'm driving some piece of crap that I payed for with my own money and payed insurance for.

It may have been a piece of crap, but it was MY piece of crap payed for in full by me.

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 05:17 PM
Cheese sandwich, fruit & milk... sounds like an absolutely well balanced healthy lunch to me! And its free! What can you complain about? I pack my son a lunch every day because I can not afford to buy his lunch, if I knew he could get that for free I'd be thrilled. Some people are so unappreciative of what they are given! I am sure this free lunch is healthier then what is served to the people who pay! I am sorry but some people in this country are so greedy and do not have a concept of money. If you can not pay for the lunch either take the free lunch option or pack your kid a lunch and send it to school if the free lunch is sooooo bad! People are so spoiled and think the government "owes" them everything just because this is the United States of America! They don't take the time to think that the governement is not funding those programs, the taxpayers are... the taxpayers who are always paying the food bill for there kids, the taxpayers who are not receiving free lunches! Hello people wake up...say "thank you" to your school for the free lunch and shut up, sit down and eat your cheese sandwich, fruit and milk!

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 05:17 PM
Some of you could still get PB&J sandwiches in Hight School? Where do you live? I wish I would have been there.

When I was in Elementary, they would allow two days of overage fine, then it was a peanutbutter sandwich, and maybe milk. It came in a saran (spelling) wrap package on the tray. It wasn't even like you had two different lines. You would have to walk up to the register and tell the lady that you needed a sandwich. She would then yell out that she needed a sandwich, and then the pass of shame, so to speak, would begin. Eventually you would get your sandwich, that was probably a week old, and then you would go and sit down. They allowed a week of sandwiches, and then you went without lunch. I had to have a sandwich once, and it was one of the worst tasting things I have ever had in my life.

And whoever says that kids won't judge other kids because they know someone has the "welfare lunch," you are terribly wrong. Maybe it won't be outright, but it will at least be whispers. Not only did this happen to me, but I saw it happen to so many other kids.

When I reached Middle School, there was no way to charge. You either payed or you didn't eat. Same way with High School.

Here the limit to qualify for free/reduced breakfast/lunch was $50,000. Regardless of what was going on in your life, if your parent's combined wages were over that limit you were out of luck. No ands, ifs, or buts. I can't even begin to tell you how many of my friends that I have bought food for because they couldn't even afford the $0.50 Little Debbie crap on the snack tray.

And for everyone who is saying that Americans should be so greatful, we have it so good, there are people in other coutries who don't even eat that in an entire day, etc., all I have to say is that it's all realitive. Just because someone else has it worse doesn't mean you don't have it bad either.

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 06:00 PM
They are lucky to get that. Back in the old days during the last great depression everyone went hungry most of the time. So these kids are spoiled especially since their parents are losers who don't pay their bills. If you can't pay, you can't play. Either that or give your kids food from home. The free lunch is forever gone my friend...

Originally posted by BlackOps719

Link to story

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]

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 06:15 PM
reply to post by BlackOps719

Most school districts do this. It does not single out the poor kids because when the wealthy kids run a negative balance of a few dollars (because the kids forget to give the lunch notice to their parents) they also must eat the "no money" lunch. People have to learn in the real world that people pay their bills.

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 06:53 PM

Originally posted by marg6043
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.

I live in New Mexico. This cold sandwich bit that the parents in ALBQ. are crying about on the news is a longstanding policy here. My oldest is in the 5th grade and has been in two different school systems here in southeast New Mexico. It's always been like this.
Oh yes the kids have to pay before getting in line. If they don't have credits they get a hot lunch for three days and a note gets sent home advising the parents every day. After the thired day it's a cold lunch. No problem for this parent. My kids take their lunch every day. Sometimes I get the "note" of advice and I find an uneaten lunch in their lunchbag.
Don't let the loudmouth crying parents get to you. The parents that truly cannot afford to pay can go in at any time during the year to apply for reduced or free lunches for their children here. The story is a non-starter.

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 07:00 PM

Originally posted by Trauma
I'd have to say that just the FRUIT is pretty amazing. At my high school all you could get were burgers, fries, hash browns, chocolate milk, soda, and poutine. The closest thing we had to fruit was fuzzy peaches.

That's actually a good point.. usually when my money for the week ran out, I lived off of cookies and chips.

By the middle of the week when I had a car to pay for as well, I think by Tuesday I saw my last half decent meal..

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 07:06 PM
reply to post by BlackOps719

Louisiana public schools have done this same thing for years.

Any parent at any time during the school years can get an application for free or reduced cost school meals.

Then fill it out and send it to the school with their child.

Unfortunately, some parents are so "stuck on status" that they won't ask for the application, like it's some kind of social stigma to have a child on the free or reduced meals program.

High school meal costs here are:
Lunch: $1.75 / Reduced: $0.40
Breakfast: $1.00 / Reduced $0.30

Elementary meal costs are:
Lunch: $1.50 / Reduced $0.40
Breakfast: $1.00 / Reduced $0.30

I wonder how many kids that have no money for school meals have parents who are never out of cigarettes or beer.

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 07:07 PM
I find this thread a little insulting really!

What is the problem with fruit and a sandwich for lunch??

What do you recommend ? McD's with fries?

When I was at school my favourite was cheese and onion, or cheese & pickle if I was lucky......In fact I was lucky if I got cheese!!....Normally it was bread and Dripping/Jam/Tongue or some paste or another!

It looks a very balanced meal for that time of day!...No junk!

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 07:19 PM
I was a brown bagger from k-12, never touched a school lunch, but i still knew who all the free lunch kids were because of the teasing. Kids are cruel, always have been. Some parents are stupid, always have been. I wonder, though, with the amounts of lay-offs happening now, there may be people who could afford it before, but now can't.

When deciding eligibility, do they look at what the parents made the previous year, or do you need to show current pay stubs? I could see how plenty of people may fall into this category, given the current economic environment.

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 07:33 PM

Originally posted by marg6043
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.

I don't think public schools are allowed to serve peanut butter anymore, as some kid might be allergic. Some school districts have even banned milk.

I don't think the root cause of this problem is the economic slowdown. It probably has more to do with educating Mexican kids on the taxpayer's dollar. Remove them, and the American kids could eat omelets and croissants.

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 07:40 PM
Here in Canada, or at least, in Nova Scotia childrens lunches aren't provided for them in school.
You have to pay for what you want in the cafeteria.
No money?
Nothing from the cafeteria!

I can see both sides to this story; but, will choose not to take either.

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 07:52 PM
The lack of compassion in the world amazes me anymore.

We single out children for the acts of their parents?

We say parents don't pay bills and are irresponsible when we don't know the circumstances behind why they aren't sending lunch money?

Then maybe we should go to this rule. If you can't afford a school lunch rich or poor you don't get feed.

No more half price meals no more free meals.

Why isn't that what food stamps are for to feed the kids anyway? Is that the mentality I should take here?

Something else I don't hear mentioned is a lot of the reduced or free meals are given to kids that their parent lives with a shack up and that persons income isn't included on the form you fill out for reduced lunches. That really chaps my hide when I see this and here I'm a single mom..lives a lone and I pay full price because I make to much. When I know these couples make more than I do.

Oh wait I forget the middle class always gets screwed. How silly of me to think honesty counts for anything anymore...just like compassion ..outdated things of the past.

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 07:58 PM
Well, I could see how cheese sandwiches every day would make a kid want to throw up at the sight of it. Maybe they could balance it out with PB&J sandwiches, which are also cheap. That's what I was hearing from the article, anyway. And kids do treat poor kids differently in some places. Singling kids out isn't fair. Just because the kids' parents don't pay the bill doesn't mean the kids should be embarassed. What ever happened to dignity?

Edit: I just saw the post above regarding peanut butter. That's a good point I hadn't thought of. Plus there was the huge peanut product recall recently.

[edit on 25-2-2009 by wintermarches]

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 08:12 PM
The easy answer to this problem is to make them all eat cheese sandwiches. I see nothing wrong with it. If they want something different, they can bring their own lunch.

posted on Feb, 25 2009 @ 08:13 PM
I'm in the "no problem with cheese" camp on this one. The school that my daughter attends has a set up that lets the parents send lunch money to the office that is deposited into the kid's lunch account. Each day the kids get in line and when it is their turn they put their finger on a scanner and it deducts the cost of that days lunch from their account. This applies to the kids who get the free/reduced lunches too, so the kids have no idea who is on free/reduced unless the kids themselves divulge that information.

Recently my daughter's account was low and the school sent a note to let us know that it was getting near time to refill the account. My daughter forgot to give it to us and a few days later she got the cold lunch. She got peanut butter on bread. Not a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, just peanut butter. No fruit, no milk, just peanut butter on bread. Believe me, she "found" her note that same day and made sure that it was the first thing out of her folder when she got home that afternoon. I have no doubt that she would have been thrilled to have gotten a cheese sandwich with fruit and milk.

I hate that other kids are being teased for having to be singled out, because kids can be quite cruel, but they still are getting a better lunch than they could be getting. It is also unfortunate that not everyone can qualify for the free/reduced meals program, but is it unreasonable for the schools to draw a line and say "no more" to the kids (or their parents) who aren't on that program? I don't think that it is. I don't have any solutions, but on the other hand, I don't have a lot of sympathy, either. Those kids are eating better than mine did when mine forgot her low balance note. I was just happy that the school didn't make my child go hungry altogether.

Take care,

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