Everyone knows that kids can get seriously hangry (hungry and angry) when it comes to lunch time. This can make the lunch line at school a serious battleground, with each kid fighting for the opportunity to get fed as quickly as possible. But people know that it is best to not intervene when it comes to this thing, after all, every student gets fed eventually. This is one of the many reasons why parents are pissed after a school offered a $100 "front of the lunch line pass" as a reward for a fundraiser, which has been perceived as both both classist and ridiculous
This offer came from when the Parent Teacher Student Association at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, in Lakeland, Florida, sent out a fundraising form with students to bring home to their parents, according to the New York Post. The form included a few levels of rewards for donations, but one stuck out in particular.
For just a $100 donation, the donor would receive quite a perk including a "front of the lunch line pass" which presumably would allow the pass-holder to do exactly what it states: Be the first to stand in the lunch line, every time. Romper has reached out to Lawton Chiles Middle Academy's Principal Brian Andrews for comment regarding the pass and the backlash it's received and is awaiting a response.
Although the form does not include any more details about the pass, the message is clear: Those who can afford to donate $100 to the organization can get special privileges and eat first, and those who can't afford to are left in the dust.
This, obviously, didn't go over too well with parents, but it was never implemented by the PTSA, according to ABC Actions News. The Lawton Chiles Middle Academy PTSA told ABC Action News in a statement:
We look to strive to look for new and innovative fundraising ideas to enhance the school experience for our students. We offer a variety of fundraising options for our students and their families to choose from each year. This Family and Business Sponsorship program was explored but we decided to not implement. Due to a clerical error, the form was inadvertently included in the Orientation packets. Our families have been notified this program is not being offered. The intent of the PTSA is to always do the best for our students and families.
Still, the form circulated to around 300 students and was enough to rightfully upset the parents of students attending the middle school. "You got those who can pay and those who cannot," Christ Stephenson, a Lawton Chiles Middle Academy parent, told ABC Action News. "[It says] 'Hey my dad has more money than you I get to eat first you have to wait, you have to wait.'"
Stephenson is completely right. This $100 pass of privilege isn't fair, especially to the millions of students who come from low-income families that qualify for and rely on the National School Lunch Program, to provide them a low-cost or free nutritionally balanced meal. Polk County Public Schools, the district where Lawton Chiles Middle Academy is located in, offers this program to its students.
According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services, over 1,700,000 students in Florida were enrolled in this program last year. If families in the county rely on free or reduced lunch, then how fair is it to those students to watch more privileged students skip the lunch line because their parents paid for them to?
All students will be fed, regardless of their position in the lunch line. And for those particularly "hangry" students who wish to be at the front of the line, every time — patience is something that can be learned, and not bought, out of the classroom, too.