You’re in line waiting to get your lunch, you reach the cashier, tray in hand, but someone stops you. The cashier discovers you are in debt for lunch. They strip you of your tray and just like that your lunch, gone. You are pushed away with nothing except a sad, cold peanut butter sandwich and maybe a carton of milk.
Everyone sees but nothing is done. The next day it happens and the next after that, but instead of blending in the same line with the other kids you’re placed aside into your own.
You don’t know why this is happening, you did nothing wrong, so you ask and the reply, “you haven’t paid your lunch bill.” Lunch bill? what lunch bill? It’s not like you’re paying any bills. What even is a bill? You haven’t done anything, yet you’re being punished for a crime you haven’t committed.
There’s a name to what is happening to you it’s called lunch shaming.
What is it?
Lunch shaming refers to the stigmatization that is placed onto any student who does not have the funds to pay for school lunch, and this is not done inadvertently rather it is intentional.
This adult issue is placed onto the children who have no control over their circumstances and their parents’ funds. In return, the parents not paying or rather not being able to afford affects these children. The blame and shame are placed onto their children as a tactic to get the parents to pay up faster and in turn to reduce the financial burden on the school.
What is it Achieving? Nothing.
This neither achieves a solution nor solves the issue, despite this humiliating tactic that many schools continue to do to get the money for the school lunches faster. Lunches are still being left unpaid. Debts on the lunches are building up and children are going through the day without being properly nourished.
This scare tactic being used is overlooking the issue of why this is even happening. Schools aren’t looking into why lunch fees aren’t being paid. They aren’t trying to find ways to curb and cure this in a way that keeps the families in the conversation. Rather, the debts are looked at with a blind eye, as school districts are only focused on the numbers.
“In America, we have enough food to feed every man, woman and child, yet 72 billion pounds of safe, edible food goes to waste each year,” according to Feeding America.
Kids and their families are going hungry and yet we’re more concerned about the next check that needs to be signed over providing them with a good meal.
“In a country that wastes billions of pounds of food each year, it’s almost shocking that anyone in America goes hungry. Yet every day, there are millions of children and adults who do not get the meals they need to thrive,” Feeding America said.
By depriving children of nutritious meals at school, our country is failing them and hindering their success in school and life. One good meal could be the deciding factor on how well a child does during their school day.
Lunch Shaming won’t fix the debt that has been incurred by unpaid lunches. However, it is not the way this issue should be handled. Leaving a child with repercussions for something they didn’t do and can’t control, won’t resolve the issue of school lunch debts.