My last post was about an innovative food waste solution – food-waste diversion. Today I would like to share insight about a source of food waste that is a result of lunch shaming, a byproduct of our government’s inability to manage school meal debt.
What is lunch shaming? It is when a school cafeteria employee is instructed to either substitute a hot lunch with an alternative (e.g., white bread cheese sandwich) or throw out the meal if the student has an unpaid school lunch bill. In some cases, it has been reported, cafeteria workers stamp the arms of children (“I Need Lunch Money”). Embarrassment, embarrassment, embarrassment – lunch shaming!
In 2014, the Department of Agriculture reported that approximately half of all school districts used some form of shaming to compel parents to pay bills. Last year, the School Nutrition Association surveyed 1,000 school lunch programs and reported that 75 percent of the districts had unpaid meal debt.
School meal debt management is a serious and debatable issue that needs to be resolved. Lunch shaming (especially throwing out hot lunches which is contributing to the current food waste problem here in America) is mean spirited!
All comments welcomed!
Shameful of these schools. It is one thing to contact a parent and let them know that they have unpaid lunch bills, but to target a child is on a new level. Children are innocent human beings and should not be penalized for their parents’ inability to pay. And throwing away the hot meals is not only a waste of food, but just downright spiteful.
This is well beyond mean spirited. It is wasteful, it is beneath us and apparently it is ineffective!