Children depend on a nutritious lunch to help them through their school day. Although 44% of Washington State school district students are on free or reduced-price meals (Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction for Washington State report), many students who do not or cannot qualify for these lunches still cannot afford to pay for them. A 2014 federal report found that 39% of districts nationwide hand out cheap alternative meals with no nutritional requirements, and up to 6% refuse to serve students with a lunch debt balance. Sadly, 76% of America’s school districts have kids with school lunch debt.
You may have read about “lunch shaming”. Students who are unable to pay for a hot lunch are given an “alternate meal”, which highlights their poverty and sets them apart from their peers. Students who are hungry are unable to focus on their work, and they can easily give up hope for succeeding in school because they are embarrassed by their inability to pay for lunch. Two articles that speak about lunch shaming are this CNN article and this Seattle Times article.
I know we can help the next generation focus on education instead of dealing with this daily reminder of their poverty.