Helping California’s Budget Crisis

About a week ago, my daughter got a summons before 6th period. She had to go to the administrative building, and fill out a free meal application. Never mind the fact that we did fill out an application, telling them we didn’t want the free food (and they don’t make doing that easy), and we didn’t want to give all of our income information. Never mind the fact that my daughter is on a medically-special diet (gluten-free), so even if we did qualify they wouldn’t be able to feed her safe food. No, they pull her out of class (and we get a “tardy” phone call) to fill out something we said we didn’t want.

Los Angeles Unified. Bah!

Thus, it is with interest that I saw an article in today’s LA Times: “California in danger of running out of money for school meals”. According to the state’s superintendent of public instruction, California may run out of money again this year to supplement school meals, in part because more struggling families are taking part in the free or reduced-price school lunch programs. The federal government provides $2.17 to $2.57 for each free or reduced-price meal, and California provides an additional 22 cents. Last school year, the state money ran out in May, and it is likely to run out earlier this school year. So do I really want to add to the state’s deficit?

As for LA Unified, for August, September and October of this year compared with the same period last year, the district saw a 3% increase in free lunches served, a 1% decrease in reduced-price lunches and a 4% increase in the number of regularly priced lunches that students buy. The article noted that L.A. Unified has been working to increase the numbers of students — paying and not paying — who eat meals at school. Well my daughter does eat her meals at school — just not the glutenated food served in the cafeteria.

Now, I do want these programs there for the families that need them. But don’t hound the families that don’t.