There has been frequent chatter in the news about young students whose parents didn’t pay the bill being denied lunch or receiving an arguably insubstantial lunch; some in Utah even suffered embarrassment when lunch was repossessed and trashed by cafeteria workers who realized the kids’ accounts were delinquent.
There was a heartwarming story out of Houston about a man who paid the balance on the lunch accounts of some 60 elementary school students.
Collectively, some Richardson ISD parents are doing something similar.
“At Prestonwood Elementary, our goal is for every child to feel equal, having a warm lunch taken away and being given only a cheese sandwich not only leaves the child hungry but is also very embarrassing for the child,” notes PTA member Jocelyn Getson. “We have families who, from time to time, either forget — I have done it myself — or are temporarily unable to contribute to their child’s lunch fund, so our PTA has made sure these children will be taken care of.”
The PTA parents at Prestonwood, in the North Dallas area of Richardson ISD, voted to start the Emergency Lunch Fund, by which teachers are given free lunch pass cards that they distribute as necessary.
“Having the teachers in control avoids abuse of the system and also creates awareness if there is one particular child in need,” notes Getson.
She adds that often teachers dig into their own pockets to pay for a child’s lunch. She says she hopes parents at other Richardson ISD schools will consider similar programs.
Most parents were unaware of the issues recently brought to light in the aforementioned news items, she says, and she believes addressing them will create a better learning environment for all students.
“This does not only effect the child who didn’t eat lunch, but also it effects the classroom as a result of [children’s] lack of energy or possible disruptions due to hunger.”
This only costs the PTA $100 a month, since lunches range from 25 cents – $2.50.
Know of other ways neighborhood PTAs are addressing the issue? Let us know in the comments section.
The aforementioned issues pertain to families who generally can afford lunch but who periodically might face financial struggles, or those who mistakenly do not send lunch money or keep the account current. Richardson ISD offers free and reduced lunches for families who qualify based on federal guidelines. Applications for meal benefits can be picked up at any school or filled out online at schoollunchapp.com.