Imagine it’s your 9th birthday at school and you go to get your favorite hot lunch, but when you get to the counter, the lunch lady looks at your bill and removes your food and replaces it with a hunk of bread and a slice of cheese. That’s exactly what happened to young Jefferson Sharpnack at an elementary school in Ohio, as reported by ABC News. Sharpnack’s grandmother said, “You would take the food off of a tray, you can’t reserve it, you’re going to throw it away and not feed the child? That doesn’t make sense to me.”
Apparently, this is common for public schools.
— ABC News (@ABC) May 8, 2019
The worst feeling in school was when the lunch lady takes your food because you didn't have any money in your account.
— к ωєαν (@YoKweav) February 3, 2014
This story comes on the heels of another infamous case of unpaid lunch bills that began a series of events that started with threatening parents with Child Protective Services (CPS) and ended with an act of generosity and kindness. A Pennsylvania school board sent a letter threatening to call CPS to have children removed from parents with outstanding lunch bills. This sparked outrage in the community and even prompted the local CPS to proclaim that the school board was lying about the way they operate and promising parents they would never remove children under those circumstances. A local businessman offered to wipe out the entire debt after penning an emotional letter to the board.
“I know what it means to be hungry,” Todd Carmichael wrote. “I know what it means to feel shame for not being able to afford food.” Unbelievably, the school rejected the offer of kindness, claiming that the parents affected could afford to pay their debts. After much social pressure, the board reversed its position and took the offered donation.
I don’t know about you, but my property tax bill — which mostly goes to the public school system I don’t use — is outrageously high. Perhaps the schools could come up with a way to collect the amounts owed or move funds around to cover the cost of missed payments without humiliating the kids or threatening parents with social workers. America is brimming with food and excessive property taxes no one believes are being spent wisely. If only someone was smart enough to solve this.
Megan Fox is the author of “Believe Evidence; The Death of Due Process from Salome to #MeToo.” Follow on Twitter @MeganFoxWriter