Students Can’t Afford To Miss Lunch

Manuel Carlos, News Reporter

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What happens if you don’t eat?

Your body – more or less – begins to cannibalize itself, as it destroys your fat and muscles, so that the body may survive as long as possible. But, eventually, you slowly wither away as you starve.

Lunch is one of those vital meals that allow you to survive. And for some students, it may be the most important meal because it’s the only meal they’ll get daily during the school week. That doesn’t have to stop when the school year ends.

Just over 800 of 1183 students are enrolled at Weston Ranch are on the free/reduced meal program. That’s just about 73 percent or roughly three-fourths of everyone is part of this program.

According to Manteca Unified Nutritional Services Supervisor Joyce Rubalcaba, among the students enrolled in the program, 62.8 percent of MUSD students eat breakfast and 61.1 percent of MUSD students eat lunch. At Weston Ranch, 31 percent of WRHS Students eat breakfast and 50.1 percent of WRHS students eat lunch.

States across the nation have unfortunately begun to participate in what has been referred to as “school lunch shaming,” a kind of indicative segregation that separates, or singles out, those students that can afford their school lunch from those that cannot.

This is how the shaming can happen. Say a student who cannot afford their meal and is in substantial debt (or rather their parents or guardians are in debt) attempts to get lunch. If they can’t afford food, their meal will be taken away and replaced with a substitute. Sometimes, they may have to clean cafeteria tables or perform other task to work off that debt while their friends and other students watch.

Early this year, New Mexico legislators passed a law that makes such an example as above illegal. It is the first law of its kind in the country. A similar bill has been introduced into the California legislature.

According to California Education Code Section 49557(a), “Children participating in the federal National School Lunch Program will not be overtly identified by the use of special tokens, special tickets, special serving lines, separate entrances, separate dining areas, or by any other means,” and thus there is at least a kind of legislative protection from being lunch shamed.

Along with feeding students minds, the school district also acknowledges it role to simply feed students.

“We want every child to eat with us,” Rubalcaba told The Prowl, and stressed that everyone has the opportunity to at least try to enroll in the free/reduced meal program.

Since so many eat because of school, a natural question arises. What will happen to these students when the school year ends?

We know what happens to the body when you don’t eat.

Fortunately, there are opportunities available for these students that are relatively convenient so that they can, and not may, eat.

Manteca Unified School District will offer lunches free of charge for children ages 2 to 18 at school sites throughout the summer beginning May 31.

For a full listing of summer lunch sites, click the link below.

http://district.schoolnutritionandfitness.com/mantecausd/files/Locations_Flyer_2017.pdf

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