Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Budget Cuts and School Lunches

Yesterday Kim wrote about the kinds of cuts being made to education funding in our communities and states. At the
same time that school budgets are being slashed, a number of families are in dire financial straits. One program that is really feeling the pinch of family finances is school lunches. From the NY Times:

The school district in Albuquerque was among several last year to start serving cold sandwiches and milk, instead of full hot meals, to students whose parents had not paid what they owed. In Wake County, N.C., those students may eat as many fruits and vegetables as they want, but not the rest of the lunch offerings.

In Louisiana, some districts did not feed the children whose parents were in arrears at all, until, in November, the State Legislature passed a law ordering that they be given at least a snack, while directing districts to notify child welfare authorities if a student got just a snack on more than three consecutive days. Framingham, Mass., hired a constable to hand-deliver notices to parents whose bills were still unpaid after the schools had sent them several letters alerting them to their debt.

At least in Albuquerque and Wake County the schools were feeding the kids. Withholding food from children is something I cannot begin to understand.

In NY City:

Since 2004, the city has absorbed at least $42 million in unpaid lunch fees.

But that is a luxury it can no longer afford, according to the Education Department, which has weathered several rounds of budget cuts, with more to come. The department has been telling principals to collect overdue lunch money or risk having it docked from their school budgets.

Of the city’s 1,600 schools, 1,043 owe a collective $2.5 million to the department for meals served in the first three months of this school year. That puts them on track to be $8 million behind by the end of the school year.

Penalizing children for the desperate financial straits their parents are in, combined with cuts to education is a sad, sad commentary on our national priorities.

cross-posted at MainSt/workingamerica.org

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