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KLUMB: Looking into lunch shaming

A recent issue that's been in the news lately has been school lunch shaming. And since the Legislature is a reactionary body, this issue has now come to the halls of the Capitol.

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A recent issue that's been in the news lately has been school lunch shaming. And since the Legislature is a reactionary body, this issue has now come to the halls of the Capitol.

Senate Education heard SB 162 which prohibited school lunch shaming. This is a bill that inspires an emotional response on both sides of the issue. What is being said here is that a school lunch program can't "shame" a child by taking the food away from them or identifying the child in any manner such as with a hand stamp or a different, cheaper lunch because their parents had not paid for the child's meals.

The emotional response comes from putting yourself in the child's shoes when you are in the lunch line and to have your tray of food all of a sudden removed from your hands because you've overspent your lunch account or you've been given a substantially different lunch from that of your peers. As we were all kids at one time, we all know how children can sometimes be very cruel to each other when it comes to teasing and harassing.

It's just part of growing up, and it's a tough life.

The other side of the emotional response is the response I felt towards parents who have somehow managed to reproduce, yet have failed either to properly care and provide for their offspring or they just expect that other people will provide for their child. Now of course, there are extenuating circumstances that some parents find themselves in and everyone goes through rough times. In these instances, there are free and reduced lunch programs for which they can apply and their child will be fed, but they must do the responsible thing and apply for those.

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That's part of being a responsible parent. Some of the opponents to this bill argued that by passing the bill it would make it easier for the lazy parents to just not care because they know that regardless if they pay for their child's meal or not their child would be fed so why bother paying? This mentality that "the government or the generosity of others will take care of me and my child so I don't have to even though I'm fully capable of supporting myself" is one that infuriates me, and thus results in the emotional response on the other side of this issue.

My heart hurts for the kids who find themselves in these situations, and thankfully, I don't believe this issue is widespread. We heard of a few instances of full lunch trays being pulled from a child's hands and thrown away but I think they are few and far between. Most schools in this state do an excellent job of being prepared and knowing which child's lunch account is running a deficit and do their best to not draw attention to that child for that fact.

So, if you're a responsible parent whose child's lunch accounts are well-funded, thank you! If you're reading this and wondering, "I wonder if my child's lunch account has money in it?" Go check. If you want to pay but just don't have the means at this time, go and apply for the assistance available to you. And if you're reading this and know that you have the ability to pay but choose not to, then shame on you. How dare you potentially put your young child at risk of ridicule by their classmates because you won't provide for the precious children you brought into this world! Children are a gift from God and life will be tough enough for each of them without any help from lazy parents.

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