Strict school lunch policies allow hungry kids to fall through the cracks

Cafeteria workers are the key to spotting hungry students
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Many hungry kids don’t qualify for free school lunches

Schools in the United States have a fairly strict policy about free or reduced lunches. You have to apply to the program and verify your income to be eligible for assistance. Unfortunately, many kids who don’t qualify for these programs still might not have money for lunch. Many schools have a free option for these situations, consisting of two pieces of white bread, a slice of cheese, and a small carton of milk.

When a Kitchen Manager in Colorado saw hungry kids in the cafeteria line, she broke school rules and gave them lunches anyway. District officials responded by firing her, a punishment she willingly accepted to draw attention to the issue. She is now publicly advocating against the policy.

Solution: Allow cafeteria employees discretion to help kids

You shouldn’t expect a child to navigate the bureaucracy to avoid hunger. If a cafeteria worker spots a hungry child, the kitchen manager should have discretion to give the child a meal, speak to them about their needs, and refer them to a social worker if necessary. Cafeteria workers can be the key to spotting hungry students, and if given an escalation process, they will be able to get kids the help they need.

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  • Do you serve on a PTA? Share this article and invite the district to review their policies to ensure no child goes hungry

Category: EducationHunger


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Article by: Dave

Dave Cannon is a Seattle-based entrepreneur and consultant to nonprofits and small businesses. He loves Thai food and takes terrible photographs. You can follow him on Linkedin.
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