ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A cold cheese sandwich, fruit and a milk carton might not seem like much of a meal — but that’s what’s on the menu for students in New Mexico’s largest school district without their lunch money.
Faced with mounting unpaid lunch charges in the economic downturn, Albuquerque Public Schools last month instituted a “cheese sandwich policy,” serving the alternative meals to children whose parents fail to pick up their lunch tab.
Critics argue the cold meals are a form of punishment for children whose parents can’t afford to pay.
“We’ve heard stories from moms coming in saying their child was pulled out of the lunch line and given a cheese sandwich,” said Nancy Pope, director of the New Mexico Collaborative to End Hunger. “One woman said her daughter never wants to go back to school.”
Darlene Vigil, said there are days she can’t spare lunch money for her two daughters. “Some parents don’t have even $1 sometimes,” the 27-year-old single mother said. “If they do, it’s for something else, like milk at home. There are some families that just don’t have it and that’s the reason they’re not paying.”
Let me get this straight: You’re too humiliated at having to eat a cheese sandwich for lunch, but not humiliated at getting a free lunch at the expense of other taxpayers.
Leftists believe hard times break you. Conservatives believe hard times strengthen you. Maybe this “humiliation” of having to eat a lunch about the half the people in the world would be grateful for will inspire children to study hard, develop marketable skills, and raise themselves above having to depend on hand-outs.
I have to wonder about single mother Darlene Vigil: Does she have the money to pay for a cell phone? For cigarettes? For alcohol on the weekends? For premium cable? Maybe she should put a higher budgetary priority on making sure her kids can afford lunch… or just accept the fact that fruit, cheese, and milk is actually a pretty decent meal by global standards.