03 December 2010

Feed Your Own Children

I really must be feeling controversial this week because guess what? I'm going to "go there." We should eliminate the free and reduced lunch program. There is no call for it to exist at all.

Now, you might be saying that food stamps aren't generous enough to feed children properly, and I might agree with you. You might also say that more people should be able to receive food stamps, and that the allowance each month ought be higher. I might agree with that, too. But that is a different argument than whether we ought be serving school lunches.

But I think within reasonable limits, families ought to be able to purchase food for themselves on this program. Not to be too stereotypical, but generally your German folks do eat differently than the folks in the black community. One of my relatives was placed in a majority-black nursing home and she really was unable to eat many of the strange foods presented to her each day. ("Greens" do not sound edible to me, either.) I know the nursing home did the best job they could on their budget, but my point remains. Different families have different tastes; some of them are personal, and some cultural.

I think families should be able to use their food stamp money to PACK a lunch for their own children. I think the food stamp amount and the qualifications for receiving this benefit are A DIFFERENT ISSUE ENTIRELY than the "school lunch" issue.

There should be no "school lunches" provided by tax dollars. Just either have food stamps and budget that meal in, or don't. I don't want families to feel forced to send their children to the local school so they can eat! For crying out loud. Schools are for learning. "Go to school or don't eat" shouldn't be the choices.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard the argument that "nice" families like mine will make sure our children eat, or if we were on food stamps, we'd use the money "correctly." But there are too many children whose parents would not, and so the school must feed them. The only two nutritious meals these precious children might get all day and blah blah blah etc.

I'm reallllly not for state interference in private lives but know what? If that's the case, if you teachers TRULY KNOW that these children are that abused at home that their parents don't stinkin' well FEED THEM, you'd better dang well pick up that phone and make a call to social services. Don't give me (or the other taxpayers!) a bunch of claptrap about working parents, limited budgets and what-have-you. Certainly you would call if I sent my children to school with no clothes, no matter how "poor" I am. Not feeding your child on a regular basis is child abuse, folks.

I submit to you that both Republicans and Democrats (and libertarians, communists, atheists, Presbyterians and other assorteds) care very much about children and what becomes of them. The nasty comments on both sides of the school lunch funding issue are a bit over the top.

Maybe I am naive, but I think parents can figure out how to pack a lunch. Get a bread bag or lunch box. Put in juice box, sandwich, small fruit or other snack. The end. Um, Elf could figure this out when he was SIX. Please don't tell me you think poor people are so stupid that they can't figure that out as well.

What we're really discussing is whether the government should decide what schoolchildren eat. They need QUALITY food, not cookies, right? There you go. So... by that logic, it's best to increase taxes on lower-middle-class people like me who are sending their children to school each day with a PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH so that the poor kids get the organically grown carrots and chicken on wheat bread.

That gets me mad.

Yes, I am notorious for sending PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES EVERY DAY for my children who attend school. And the kids who are teasing my children about this food "choice?" Are on "free" breakfasts that cost $2.00 and "free" lunches that cost $2.50 each day, per child. I can't afford this food for my own children, but I'm paying for theirs.

Mad, I tell you.

12 comments:

  1. I would have issues ~ because free school food is not normally done out here but in some schools so many children were arriving without having had breakfast [& we all know children need a healthy breakfast in order to study well!] the schools began *breakfast clubs*.

    Issue1: stigmatisation of the children who used this by both staff & peers.

    Issue2: Long list of foods that couldn't be used because of health risks [included peanut butter, grain bread & most fruits; what remained was hardly *healthy*]

    Issue3: Free food! The whole school decided this was a winner & even the kids who'd already eaten [like mine] lined up for a 2nd go~around of vegemite toast & apple slices.

    It got out of hand very quickly. Far better, in my humble opinion, to let families work these things out for themselves.

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  2. You are on a bit of a tirade this week, aren't you? lol

    I agree!

    Unfortunately, there are scabs that give birth and do not care *if* their child eats lunch, let alone what they eat. There are also families who don't utilize their stamps on food items, and there is nothing for the kid to take for a lunch, especially toward the end of the month when the stamps are long gone.

    Most school districts also want no part of making reports to CPS, either. It's not good for their 'image'.They also son't want the drama. Therefore, there are kids who get lost in the shuffle and need feeding.

    So many of our programs need overhauling, but it seems our country is going to bankrupt itself before it realizes that. How much more can the middle class take on, before they are the poor as well?

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  3. I totally agree on this, but then I also think there needs to be a stricter application system for food stamps as well.

    I've seen both sides. As a teacher/child of a daycare owner that works with a program to provide discounted child care which means they can be on the federal food program I've seen kids as young as 1 who's only good meals have been at that daycare and it is sad, but with the lack of food question and CPS you can't really call on that unless the child has stated that they can only eat at school, otherwise there is no proof, it is also sad.
    As someone who has also worked as a cashier at a grocery store I have seen how many spend their food stamps and no it is not always on things that will last. I have under multiple occasions seen people use their food stamps for food for a birthday party no way is any of that going to last a month.

    It is a sad thing but I too think that people should take responsibility for their children and feed them on the budget the can afford, plus there are food banks that give out food that will last and can even be used for school lunches.

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  4. Devorah, I've had issues with my own children charging up accounts at school. They don't NOT let your child eat, no matter what you tell them. SO... if I had all six children enrolled and they went through the line I could be out $40 PER DAY/ $200 a week. Yowie!

    Blondee, I just can't imagine Christmas and Spring break for these kids if this is for real!! It is so stinkin' WRONG to treat children like this. How DARE the school NOT call if they even THINK children are being starved at home! How dare they??

    We're all supposed to look out for each other. I'm very leery of "the state," but if kids aren't fed, something has to be done and fast.

    Megan, what you are writing is beyond awful. HOW can these parents afford daycare if they can't afford to feed them? I don't understand how you can't call if you have a reasonable suspicion, though. Doctors are required to. Better believe if I had several children losing weight and reporting not being fed that something would be done, as often as we must go.

    It's just so sad and shameful. I also, though, don't want to see children HAVING TO SCHOOL or losing those benefits. Only think; listen to what the school wants to teach you and you get fed. The potential for propoganda is pretty amazing there...

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  5. This is just one article on this poor child. She was living in squalor, at times eating garbage, and abused beyond belief, yet CPS was only called twice....and they didn't help her. It does happen, sadly.

    http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2009/03/state_finishes_report_into_tre.html

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  6. Whaaa... my definition of a "filthy" home is one that has four cats and a strong *smell* because the boxes aren't changed frequently. 100 cats is sorta an entirely different matter!

    And on a cold day (it is upstate NY), I could see chickens in the garage with a good and clean family. But all through the house is sorta an entirely different matter!

    It looks like, though, she was NOT starved to death but choked. And I'm reading this thinking she was not eligible for free lunches because she'd steal the food at school until an aide brought some each day.

    I knew a hs counsellor who knew a good friend of mine was being sexually abused at home. We all three sat around and talked about "the secret." Looking back, I am sick and sorry for my part in it. I thought I was helping her to "stay strong." I really did.

    Schools need to call when it's that bad! I'm guessing she smelled more than just *a little bit* of cat urine, poor baby girl.

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  7. http://stopcorruptdss.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/maxwellreport1dss-version.pdf

    If this pdf is to be believed, the father/stepmom refused food stamps repeatedly in the case. It wasn't even an issue of their spending on birthday cake and letting the kid starve; they were most seriously messed.

    Various reports show that **80** of the cats were in the master bedroom, which is interesting because the pdf states that is the one place they didn't let the state worker.

    Well, *I* wouldn't let the worker into my bedroom, either, because it's private and not pertinent if my children don't play or spend time there.

    I also saw a pic of the house and it looked like a nice farm from a distance anyway.

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  8. It is horrible and the reason that the teacher and or director can't call is because they do eat at the center, and these families can't afford daycare there is a program that gives them free or very much reduced daycare, and they over eat at the center, so you can not see any weight loss if there even is any because they get to eat pretty much how ever many serving they want at the daycare, and we have only really seen this with one family and we were pretty sure it was more of the 12 and 10 year olds being the main care provider at home for the younger children(meaning they got food but not enough at home, that's how it happens sometime there is food just the children don't have access to enough of it) but never knowing for sure a daycare can not call it is a tough and sad thing to see.

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  9. I don't know... I think people CAN call but choose not to. What DFS/CPS does with that information is up to them.

    And free childcare? Do you know how strapped we are here? We would need specialized childcare if we had to go anywhere... we're talking $60 per hour. And one of my children has SPECIALIZED medical appts... you know, the kind someone really ought to take off work to attend?

    Since I am the housewife, I'm already off work, but somehow bringing a passel of autistic children (plus a toddler, who actually is the EASIEST) to an appointment and waiting forever in the waiting room/doctor room doesn't work well.

    But I have no other way. No family. And I'm paying for these people to ship their kid off? For free?? Ok, I feel sorry for the children but that makes me very mad.

    I don't think the "solution" is more free daycare and school food, though. I think that enables the behaviour to continue or sets it up the conditions under which bad parents take advantage in the first place.

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  10. Well, as someone who recently told her adult daughter to stay at school because she hadn't eaten in three days and was famished... I suppose I shouldn't even comment on this.

    But, I have a beef with the entire way the system is run anyway. Parents pay... kid gets a number, kind of like debit card training... parents have no say in how often, when the child is eating (or even if they are using their account to feed their kid). I cannot tell you how annoyed I was to learn that I owed the school almost $100 because my child was eating breakfast every day at school(after she had eaten/refused the meal at daycare that I had paid for too). See, she couldn't be in the cafeteria with her friends and out of the cold unless she had paid for a meal. One of the many benefits of homeschooling is avoiding the cafeteria. When, in real life, do we eat with 400 or so of our closest friends?

    So, rant on ~

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  11. You're right, her death was not starvation. But she was old enough, and had attended school long enough where SOMEONE should have helped her. She lived just over an hour from us, the news reports were absolutely heartbreaking. Neighbors knew a child lived there, but never *saw* her. Her teachers and classmates complained of her odor, and how dirty she was on a day to day basis....yet no one intervened, or intervened with enough insistence to make CPS wise up. As a parent, I cannot imagine seeing a child that reeks of animal feces/urine day after day and not doing something. Number one, that can't be healthy for the child to breathe in, but then there was also testimony that Erin told friends she was locked in her room after school until the following morning, and again....no one spoke up for her. Granted, this was a step Mom she lived with, but what was wrong with her father that he let this happen to her? It's just disgusting and sad, and poor Erin is just one of the children who suffered/suffers like this.

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  12. Well, TWICE, someone was loving enough to call. Reading the PDF report, it looks like once it was the schoolteacher (they don't say, but tell us it's a mandated reporter who tells them she's doing well "academically").

    I'm not sure if the story proves my "point" about how people need to look out for each other, and that when abuse is that stinkin' bad someone needs a phone call... because it's not about food stamps and free lunches any more when the parents don't even bother to apply and their child is hungry.

    For all the child abuse "awareness" that is out there, what should someone do sometimes is a bit beyond me. 80 cats in one master bedroom is... "reeking" doesn't even cover how she must have smelled. And the social worker just "reminds" the family that it's a good idea for a bath each day, and they save her clothes in a plastic tote so they don't catch the smell so easily.

    Arrg. Though (and I don't know why, but this girl's case was so compelling I spent a lot of time last night reading on it) I am not sure that the animal weirdness, lack of cleanliness and her murder are related. They might have been... parents who were just not "with it" and left cats to multiply and their child with someone who raped her.

    I might have left her in that home if I were DFS, but I'd have wanted the reeking stench gone. Farmhouse animal smell, fine, but reeking stench, no. I think there is more to the story that we are not getting, but it could also be that DFS had an incomplete/inaccurate picture as well.

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