Thursday, August 1, 2019

It’s a real shame about school lunch - The Washington Post

It’s a real shame about school lunch - The Washington Post

It’s a real shame about school lunch

School lunch shouldn’t be a topic of controversy, yet, somehow, it is — and this isn’t about the taste of the food.
For one thing, the Trump administration has proposed a change in the rules governing who qualifies for food stamps through the program known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and critics say they fear this could hurt millions of people, including children who qualify for free lunch at school because their family is low-income.
About 40 million low-income people received SNAP benefits in 2018, and under the proposed revisions, at least 3 million could lose benefits. That includes about half a million students who could lose access to free lunch at school, according to critics of the plan. NBC news reported:
The Trump administration determined that more than 500,000 children would no longer be automatically eligible for free school meals under a proposed overhaul to the food stamp program, but left that figure out of its formal proposal, according to House Democrats.
The move by the administration sparked denunciations from many corners, including from the co-founders of Revolution Foods, Kristin Groos Richmond and Kirsten Saenz Tobey, who said in a statement:
By changing the eligibility provisions, the unfortunate and harmful proposed changes to the SNAP program could compromise food access for millions of families in need as well as potentially inhibit the ability for our youth to achieve their true potential in and out of school.
Then there is the continuing problem of something called “lunch shaming,” a particularly disturbing practice by some school districts, which take action against students whose parents don’t pay their lunch bills. A 2014 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that in the 2011-12 school year, nearly half of all school districts allowed lunch shaming in one form or another to try to push parents to pay their children’s lunch bills. It took until 2017 for New Mexico to pass the first law in the country to prohibit the practice.
In some places, adults in school buildings have given children a snack or nothing at all in place of lunch until the payments are made. They have reprimanded children while they were standing in line for lunch, stamped their hands as a reminder to their parents to pay up, and taken other inexplicable action against kids.
Now a number of states have passed laws to stop lunch shaming, including California, Hawaii, Oregon and Texas — but not all of them. Pennsylvania outlawed it but recently changed its mind.
Explaining all of this is Steven Singer, a veteran National Board-certified teacher in Pennsylvania with a master’s degree in education. He is also a father and author of “Gadfly on the Wall: A Public School Teacher Speaks Out on Racism and Reform.” A version of this appeared on his lively Gadfly on the Wall blog, and he gave me permission to publish it.


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