Poverty is a reality
I was glad to see that our local schools did address their hot lunch policies. I do believe there was “under-reporting” from two schools as to the actual numbers of students that were not given meals and/or not given hot meals. (The Brainerd district does dump the hot meals in the garbage in front of the students). This is not an issue about school budgets and a parent’s ability to pay! This is about poverty, hunger, and shaming! If over 50 percent of students qualify for free or reduced meals, this speaks to the poverty that is a reality in our county. The school lunch may be the only nutritious meal the student will receive during the day! And no student should ever be shamed by having the food tray dumped in front of them or be refused a meal! Numbers mean nothing if even one child has to have this experience! Is it not enough of a burden that they live with poverty must they also worry about shame in a school environment! I applaud the school districts that have the understanding that in order for minds to flourish the body must be fed as well!
Editor’s note: Brainerd School District Superintendent Steve Razidlo said that if a student (who has reached that negative $20 account balance and has received several alerts about it) comes through the line with a hot lunch, cafeteria staff will “discreetly and kindly” take their tray and set it under their computer stand. The student will then be given an alternate cold lunch. Those cases are rare, he said.