Archives

school lunches

Initially I only published this at my local blog, but just realized it is repeating in towns small and large all across the USA and abroad.

The local tiny-town weekly reports an outstanding debt of $18,000 in the school lunch program. Next month the school board will consider a proposal to sell that debt to a collection agency. They, in turn, will add 1/3rd to it and start working the parents over to pay off their ‘enhanced bills’.

Unsurprisingly, I find some things wrong with this. The big one, of course, is how did the food service department, business manager and school board let this debt get so dang big? The Food Service Director reports, “We have some families who haven’t paid for years.”

If somebody was shopping in your grocery store without paying their bill, how long would you let them continue to haul groceries out the front door? Not long at all with YOUR money, I’m sure. However, the school is working with other people’s money. That, of course, is the obvious difference.

These school two execs who make 140% or 240% of the average Kuna income seem to assume that the scofflaws are just being mean holding out on paying for these lunches. They will be shocked and amazed to learn that in many cases, the school lunch bills turn out to be among many the recently unemployed or underemployed are behind on. Do they even know that part of the world exists?

The school board chairman says he’d rather send a bill to collection than serve a child peanut butter sandwiches – “That would be demoralizing for the student, and other students would know what was going on.”

Oh my gosh, we can’t have students understanding that there is a limit to money – until we club them over the head with that fact the day after they depart our government-run school system and enter the real world.

We can’t send a message that, as Heinlein put it, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch“. That is, not until they are buried in making a living and paying half of that out in taxes to support someone else’s free lunch.

And we most certainly wouldn’t want to FORCE teens into making their own lunch… at least not while they are young and learning the ways of the world. Oh no, far better that we teach them that the government will take care of their needs. All they have to do is accept that adults are thrown in debtors prison every once in a while for what will probably appear to be inexplicable reasons.

If you, I or any rational business person were running the school lunch program, it would be a mere offering of lunch in a marketplace of lunch options. When I hired labor raised in Hispanic cultures, they were amazed that I would buy them lunch… mostly because none of them usually stopped working in the middle of the day. In 7th through 9th grades, if it wasn’t raining, I ate one peanut cup and played basketball for lunch. Those are only two among infinite choices that a real-world marketplace of ideas for lunch offers.