Sunday, April 9, 2017
How distressing to learn that a school child who takes food in the cafeteria line then has the food taken away because the child has insufficient funds to pay. That is policy in many schools across the nation.
New Mexico recently passed a law outlawing "lunch shaming". The shame is in the need to pass a law to stop the practice. But there are many reports of humiliating children who cannot afford to buy food. The New York Times reports the following incidents:
- One child who could not afford to pay the full cost of lunch, had "I need lunch money" stamped on one arm.
- Others are forced to clean the cafeteria in front of their peers.
- Some school policies instruct workers to remove the food from the child and throw the food into the trash.
This leaves us to wonder what sort of environment leads adults to punish and humiliate students because of their inability to meet a fundamental human need. Perhaps those whose needs were not met as children? Those so desperate for work that they will participate in inhumane practices? While it is easy to be angry with those doing the shaming, the remedy can only be continued advocacy to meet the basic human needs of all.