Letter of the Day (Sept. 7): School lunchrooms

  • Updated: September 6, 2012 - 7:44 PM

Better food, as long as you can pay.


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As a parent of two public high school students, I am pleased to know that Minnesota school districts are now focused on "nutrition offering more fruits and vegetables and less carbohydrates, meat and calories overall." ("Lunchroom menus push healthy food," Sept. 4.) Clearly, this is a step in the right direction of providing kids with healthier lifestyles.

However, let's not celebrate so quickly: There are more than 61,500 kids in our state who are on "reduced" lunch, which means they pay 40 cents per lunch because their family income is between 131 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level. Many of these families cannot afford the 40 cents.

What is worse is that, according to a Minnesota Legal Aid survey, 30 of 182 responding school districts have a "turn away policy" to which cafeteria employees must reluctantly adhere. It ranges from providing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to dumping the lunch tray into the garbage when the child cannot pay.

As Minnesotans, we must ensure that every child on reduced lunch is fed, whether or not they can pay. It is great to have healthy meals in the schools, but hungry kids can't learn.


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