If You Learned in the Forgotten Classroom, You Should Support the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act

July 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

LGLisa Goddard
Advocacy and Online Marketing Director

In most classrooms, the tools needed for success are not rationed by income.  Children from both poor and wealthy families play on gym equipment, and use textbooks, computers and lab equipment, regardless of income.

However, in the forgotten classroom – the lunchroom – children are not given equal access to the tools needed for success. In some states, children who forget their lunch money, or whose parents were delinquent on paying lunch, or filling out the required paperwork, are at least guaranteed a cold cheese sandwich.  In Texas, it is up to the individual schools to determine if a child receives a lunch if their account is overdrawn. We can only hope that the lunch administrators show compassion for the student – and the teachers attempting to instruct hungry children after lunch period.

ww0207-91Universal Feeding Program – One Lunch, No Paperwork, No Kidding!
The tough economy is not the only reason parents choose not to participate in the program. Paperwork is one of the greatest barriers to the success of the school lunch program.  Language barriers, literacy and stigma prevent otherwise eligible children from properly accessing the free- and reduced-lunch program.  In Philadelphia, the popular two-decade long Universal Feeding pilot program enjoyed participation nearly rates twice as high as in non-Universal sites (80 percent vs. 45 percent, according to state figures). In this program, all children, regardless of income, have access to school lunches.  Similar to how children are allocated textbooks, there is no probing into a family’s financials.

S. 1226 / H.R. 2803, makes the successful Philadelphia “Universal Free” model a national option – one of the many bills to be potentially bundled as part of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act up for review this fall.

Would it be “fair” to have low-income families pay the same for food as other families? Why is it acceptable to treat lunch differently from other school-related experiences?

 TAKE ACTION

Ask your Senator to co-sponsor S. 1226, and your Representative to sponsor  H.R. 2803.  Click here to find your congressperson.

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