“Lunch shaming” and the cost of Denver schools’ free-lunch-for-all policy | IN 60 SECONDS

“Lunch shaming” and the cost of Denver schools’ free-lunch-for-all policy | IN 60 SECONDS


In August 2017, Denver Public Schools
unveiled a new school lunch policy in a push to end lunch shaming. There are
students who are eligible for the federal free and reduced lunch program – set
them aside. They’re not the ones we’re talking about. There are students who are
not eligible for federal free and reduced lunch because their families can afford to
pay for lunch. What Denver said to these families is that their children would
get lunch at school if they paid for it, and they would get lunch if they did not.
A year later, the check came due. Debt from unpaid lunches in the 2017-18 school
year grew more than 25 fold, to more than $350,000, or about nine hundred unpaid lunches a day. Now, no one wants to see
children go hungry because of their family’s financial circumstances. But
neither do we want to shift dollars from academics to the lunch line due to
feel-good schemes that go south. The lesson: Even the most well-meaning of
bureaucratic policies can have unintended consequences, eroding the trust essential
to healthy schools and compassionate communities. Is it surprising to you that
so many people seemed to take advantage of Denver’s program? And why or why not? Let
us know in your comments. Also, let us know what other topics you’d like our
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