On average 30 million students receive free and reduced breakfast and lunch from public schools throughout the nation. The national School Lunch Program (NSLP) provides these meals to students who are homeless, living in foster care, or who live in families with very low income. For many students, the school-provided meals are the only meals they receive during the day. Some students receive food to take home on weekends, but that is only through extra funding and donations to particular schools, and their is great concern for the continuing operation of these programs under the new republican administration.
In a recent debate, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos stated that their is no such thing as free lunch. While the truth of the matter is that their will always be a cost associated with school lunch, the primary focus should be children receiving a nutritious school lunch every day, regardless of their socio economic status. While President Obama’s legislation would cost more money for tax payers, it would ensure all children receive a nutritious lunch every day.
Students who receive free and reduced-price meals are often ashamed that they must receive those meals. Other students in line do notice when the student does not have to pay for lunch or is not able to purchase the extra snacks and drinks offered on the lunch line. In addition, the forms for free and reduced lunch are not distributed on the first day of school. Students must get a paper copy of the form and turn it in. In most low-income families, the student have to collect the forms because the parents often can’t get the forms from the schools themselves. Finally, too many students forget their lunch money for some reason or another. On some occasions, mom and dad might be fighting in the morning or trying to run out the door, and the child might simply go to the bus stop and forgo asking for the needed money for fear of getting in the middle of the fight. In other instances, the money is simply left at home and the parents can’t bring it to school. Regardless, their are few provisions for students who forget their money. On occasion, the students may receive a simple cheese sandwich, and on other occasions, the student is turned away. Either way, their is nothing more embarrassing than the lunch ladies replacing a student’s lunch because the student could not pay.
It's easy to say that it is too expensive to pay for public school children’s lunches, but we all know the consequences of not eating during the day. If you can’t go through your work day without eating something, it should not be expected that children should have to do the same. Since schools are responsible for children’s safety while they are attending, they should be responsible for the nutrition of their students. Our future depends on the success of today’s children, and today’s children should not be penalized or labeled because their parents can’t always provide for their needs.