The incident this past week in Utah regarding student lunches really brings up two issues. Yes, the school board apologized, the parents were outraged and the State officials were “demanding answers”. The individuals involved will be reprimanded and re-trained and a policy or two will be changed.
The practice of giving a child a “different” lunch because they did not have the money or their parents did not re-fill their meal account is outrageous. Public Schools are for all children. Not only are children required to attend school, Public Schools are set up to give All Children an equal opportunity. This policy of “different lunch” is pretty common across the country, each district handles it a little different (some will give a cheese sandwich, or peanut butter and jelly or a Lunchable) but in absolutely No circumstance should a child be singled out, treated different or in any way made to feel embarrassed because of a financial situation at home or the choices their parents make. The discussion on the State of Education will be left for another time.
The bigger problem is the state of Hungry and Homeless children in this Nation. The United States of America continues to be the most influential and powerful nation on Earth.
Children do not have many choices. They rely on their parents to feed, clothe, teach, guide and protect. Most parents take on the role of parenting with a tremendous desire to be the best parent they can be. All parents make mistakes but most do try to be a responsible role model that children need. Whether a parent does their very best and still falls short in some areas as we all know circumstances in life have a rippling effect, or for the children of parents that are not responsible and feel they are hindered in life by children, children should not suffer.
The money that our government sends to other nations to feed the poor, provide healthcare to the needy and offer supplies after a tragic event is wonderful. However, for every child that is hungry or in need of basic necessities in this country it is shameful. It is outrageous that our government chooses to help others before helping our own. When was the last time America received a check, a box of supplies or a delegation of health care professionals to help our citizens?
Our politicians will say that there are programs set up for those in need. If so, why are there still children hungry, still in need of warm clothes, still living in a shelter or in a car? If the folks in Washington can stop bickering about what the latest jobs report means or trying to offer a sound bite to get on a news show they will realize that they all have common ground in trying to help those that cannot help themselves.
This is not about re-distribution of wealth, not increasing taxes, not increasing welfare. This is about a Country with the most natural resources, the most generous people, making sure the most innocent and vulnerable have the basic necessities in life.
It is nice to help other Nations but if we don’t take care of our own children first then we may not be a strong enough nation to help others down the road. Adults have choices, Children do not.