Class System in the Cafeteria

Out the NYTimes comes this article about students who meet the requirements to obtain a free lunch from the government, but refused to eat to be considered “cool”. In high school, students look for acceptance and sometimes will go to far lengths to obtain it. However, what kind of effect is this having on their academics if they do not get anything to eat. I, personally, get cranky when I go hungry for long periods of time and find myself irritable to everything around me. Students could feel this way and it could lead to classroom disruptions that would have been avoided if the student just had something to eat.

One of the suggestions made in the article that schools are considered to establish some equity in the cafeteria is to have everyone pay with a debit card. Making a payment in this manner will eliminate the physical appearance of students who have money and those who do not. I don’t know that it will eliminate the class system within the high school, but it will hide, in the cafeteria at least, who is on free/reduced lunch and who is not.

What are some suggestions that you may for how to solve this problem?

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2 Responses to “Class System in the Cafeteria”

  1. Where I work, students, as well as teachers, punch in a four digit number when purchasing lunch. As far as I know, every student has a number that is given to them when they begin sixth grade. While the card may be a good idea, there will still be students that will not eat. For example, in a previous year, a student would buy a lunch (student was a free/reduced lunch) but would either give her tray away or throw it away. Why? She didn’t get much to eat at home and so in order for her stomach to stay the same size she wouldn’t eat at school either. She was afraid that her stomach would expand too much (not for vain appearance) and that she would get hungry at home. This was verified and was not for any type of weight loss measures, just simply a survival method for when she was at home. Yes, the appropriate people were notified.

  2. I agree. This is a touchy situation for kids to figure out. It’s embarassing for them to let their classmates know that they can’t afford things that others can. There must be some way to make this process a little more private for everyone.


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