I’m not a delicate flower, but at the same time, it’s not hard to break my heart, either. Show me a picture or story of a sick kid or one who’s been bullied and I’ll want to dive into the newspaper or computer screen and smother the child with all the love, compassion and empathy inside of me while simultaneously beating their cancer or human aggressor into remission or submission. Children should have their innocence safeguarded with an abundance of love, butterfly kisses and giggles for as long as possible. They shouldn’t have to suffer physical pain beyond a scraped knee, nor should they have to endure humiliation beyond the occasional normal stuff, like, say, an ill-timed burp for the whole class to hear. Forces that work to strip them of their healthy or dignity way in advance of their adult years are lower than pond scum.
A school in Texas recently sunk lower than the lowest form of pond scum. A boy in sixth grade at the Barber Middle School in Dickinson was getting breakfast in the cafeteria when he realized he was 30 cents short. Instead of allowing him to pay the money back, or even letting his mom come in later that day to settle the bill, the cafeteria workers threw his breakfast in the trash.
According to Raw Story, Jennifer Castilleja’s son is part of a reduced-meal program where 30 cents is the total amount due for any meal. She told KTRK that she offered to come to school to pay the moment she heard what was happening, but officials refused, saying payment must be made in advance and the boy’s account had run out of money.
Rubbing salt into the wound, Castilleja said there were kids all around her son when he was informed he couldn’t eat. So not only did he go hungry, but he was also embarrassed.
The school defended the move, saying Castilleja should have known the account was running low because students get verbal warnings followed by written warnings sent home to parents.
Even if that’s the case, who lets a kid go hungry — especially over 30 cents? If you’re trying to make a point, err on the side of mercy and kindness and let kids know that they won’t let an amount equal to less than two quarters keep their bellies from being full. Let me know they’ll talk to them about it privately. Let the know no food will be wasted on principle. Let them know you care enough to help find them a way.
All kids should know that their health and well-being are worth way more than 30 cents. How does a school not have that philosophy?
It can be stigmatizing enough for a kid to be part of a subsidized meal program. But to endure humiliation over such a small amount of money in front of other kids and still not get fed?
To recap: A Texas school trashes sixth-grader’s breakfast over 30 cents. The logical next move is to trash the school, yes?
Photo credit: iStockphoto
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