Backroads

Kids and school lunches and what Christ would do

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This is a tweak of a post I put on my teacher forum, now looking for a more LDS perspective. 

Today one of my students hands me a note from her mother. Mom apparently doesn't like the cafeteria food and doesn't want Daughter eating it. (It's really not that bad, very healthy).  She also doesn't have enough time to prep lunches. So the note basically said Daughter will be eating at home after school, but would I mind perhaps keeping something healthy snacks and small lunch items in case Daughter get hungry?

Yeah, I mind. I really am in the camp of not buying for students what their families should be buying for them. 

Sure, the possibility this might be a money issue they're trying to deflect did pop into my mind. This family isn't the poorest at our school by any lengths (and we got poverty, let me tell you) but people go through hard times and with a month left of school getting on free or reduced lunch might be too much of a hassle for them. However, I also had another mom in the class forbid her daughter from eating school lunch because the food. isn't organic.

Either way, I'm a bit peeved this is aiming to become my problem. I either have to deal with a hungry kid in the afternoons or buy her lunch myself. Today one of the aids is finding her something to eat as I didn't even bring food for myself today.

Am I being a rotten teacher or, more importantly, unChristlike over this?

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Guest MormonGator

One of the many things I admire about LDS is how much they care about others and the consequences of their actions. You really are knocking this one out of the park @Backroads. Your sweetness and caring is so evident. It never ceases to amaze me how LDS think things through and really struggle with situations. Especially in this case, where no one in their right mind would accuse you of doing anything wrong. 

To me, Mom here needs to shut up and stop making things difficult for you and the little girl. Just eat the cafeteria food and move on. I feel so sorry for you Backroads. It's like mom here just created a nasty little situation for you. 

Edited by MormonGator

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How is it even possible that you are doing anything wrong in this situation?  The simple fact that you are asking this question is evidence of your sincerity and love for your students.

This family has a few choices, allow their child to eat school lunch, send the child to school with a packed lunch, or send snacks to tide the child over until  afternoon lunch/dinner at home.  The only other option is allowing the child to go hungry until dinner.  If the family is asking you to provide snacks, then they are choosing the latter option.

You have no responsibility whatsoever to spend your own money to provide food or snacks for this child.  If her family is in financial trouble, they can seek out help through other means.  This sounds like a self entitlement problem to me, and I personally would not support them in this.  If they do not find their own way to provide for their child's needs, then eventually this becomes a neglect issue and CPS would come into play.  They can go to the school principle, the board of education, etc, etc, if they feel the school lunch options are not appropriate to their child's health.

I would forward the information to the principle. I would say the Christlike thing to do in this case is to allow them to love their child enough to make sacrifices in order to provide for her in the way they are supposed to as her parents.  They are not entitled to use you to fill the gap of their incompetence.

Edited by person0

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39 minutes ago, Backroads said:

This is a tweak of a post I put on my teacher forum, now looking for a more LDS perspective. 

Today one of my students hands me a note from her mother. Mom apparently doesn't like the cafeteria food and doesn't want Daughter eating it. (It's really not that bad, very healthy).  She also doesn't have enough time to prep lunches. So the note basically said Daughter will be eating at home after school, but would I mind perhaps keeping something healthy snacks and small lunch items in case Daughter get hungry?

Yeah, I mind. I really am in the camp of not buying for students what their families should be buying for them. 

Sure, the possibility this might be a money issue they're trying to deflect did pop into my mind. This family isn't the poorest at our school by any lengths (and we got poverty, let me tell you) but people go through hard times and with a month left of school getting on free or reduced lunch might be too much of a hassle for them. However, I also had another mom in the class forbid her daughter from eating school lunch because the food. isn't organic.

Either way, I'm a bit peeved this is aiming to become my problem. I either have to deal with a hungry kid in the afternoons or buy her lunch myself. Today one of the aids is finding her something to eat as I didn't even bring food for myself today.

Am I being a rotten teacher or, more importantly, unChristlike over this?

Dear Little Linda's mom,

Thanks for your note. I love having Little Linda as a student and I think she's a great kid.

I understand your feelings and respect that you want to feed your daughter healthy foods. However, I'm her teacher, not her mother, and it would be both inappropriate and against school policy for me to bring her snacks. But feel free to send Little Linda to school with her snacks; she will be allowed to eat them at lunchtime and at other appropriate times during the day.

If you want the school to provide food for Little Linda, the school lunch program is the way the school discharges that duty. My understanding is that the school lunches are nutritious and pleasant. If you have concerns about them, please feel free to discuss that with the administration. The principal can be reached at 987-654-3210, and by email at [email protected]

Thanks,

Little Linda's teacher

Edited by Vort

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13 minutes ago, MormonGator said:

One of the many things I admire about LDS is how much they care about others and the consequences of their actions. You really are knocking this one out of the park @Backroads. Your sweetness and caring is so evident. 

Well, thanks! Frankly, I don't feel particularly sweet in this situation. More annoyed.

Plus, I really hate the Teacher Martyr mentality and try to work against it.

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15 minutes ago, Backroads said:

This is a tweak of a post I put on my teacher forum, now looking for a more LDS perspective. 

Today one of my students hands me a note from her mother. Mom apparently doesn't like the cafeteria food and doesn't want Daughter eating it. (It's really not that bad, very healthy).  She also doesn't have enough time to prep lunches. So the note basically said Daughter will be eating at home after school, but would I mind perhaps keeping something healthy snacks and small lunch items in case Daughter get hungry?

Yeah, I mind. I really am in the camp of not buying for students what their families should be buying for them. 

Sure, the possibility this might be a money issue they're trying to deflect did pop into my mind. This family isn't the poorest at our school by any lengths (and we got poverty, let me tell you) but people go through hard times and with a month left of school getting on free or reduced lunch might be too much of a hassle for them. However, I also had another mom in the class forbid her daughter from eating school lunch because the food. isn't organic.

Either way, I'm a bit peeved this is aiming to become my problem. I either have to deal with a hungry kid in the afternoons or buy her lunch myself. Today one of the aids is finding her something to eat as I didn't even bring food for myself today.

Am I being a rotten teacher or, more importantly, unChristlike over this?

The answer to the question depends on how you respond to the parent.

This is what I would do for a minimum:

Send a note to the parent listing healthy no-prep snacks (fruit, veggies, etc.) and the price tag of each from the local grocery store.  Then tell her that you'd gladly stock your classroom with these for her child but you will need to raise donations to cover the cost before you can do so.

 

But because I'm an over-achiever:

I would enclose all my Bento Lunch pictures and offer to teach the parent and her daughter how to prep lunch in under 10 minutes.

Side note:  I taught my boys to make their own lunches when they were in 1st grade.  Of course, they didn't get to practice it much because I really like making lunches.  But, when I have to go travel, they make their own lunches and they're what I would make.

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20 minutes ago, Backroads said:

This is a tweak of a post I put on my teacher forum, now looking for a more LDS perspective. 

Today one of my students hands me a note from her mother. Mom apparently doesn't like the cafeteria food and doesn't want Daughter eating it. (It's really not that bad, very healthy).  She also doesn't have enough time to prep lunches. So the note basically said Daughter will be eating at home after school, but would I mind perhaps keeping something healthy snacks and small lunch items in case Daughter get hungry?

Yeah, I mind. I really am in the camp of not buying for students what their families should be buying for them. 

Sure, the possibility this might be a money issue they're trying to deflect did pop into my mind. This family isn't the poorest at our school by any lengths (and we got poverty, let me tell you) but people go through hard times and with a month left of school getting on free or reduced lunch might be too much of a hassle for them. However, I also had another mom in the class forbid her daughter from eating school lunch because the food. isn't organic.

Either way, I'm a bit peeved this is aiming to become my problem. I either have to deal with a hungry kid in the afternoons or buy her lunch myself. Today one of the aids is finding her something to eat as I didn't even bring food for myself today.

Am I being a rotten teacher or, more importantly, unChristlike over this?

I can think of a million reasons why buying a student lunch is a bad idea.  (Or at least four reasons).

First, you buy one student lunch and another parent finds out about it (especially if there is a lot of poverty in your school), they will expect it too, and so on and so forth.  

Second, if something happens to the kid due to the food you are feeding them (e.g., food allergies, food poisoning, etc.), you are opening yourself up to LAWSUITS, being fired, etc.  The parents could assert meritless claims of "food poisoning" if they decide your food is not up to their satisfaction.

Third, you are sending the message to the family if you start buying the student lunch that you are willing to solve other problems of theirs.  People sometimes do this - they interpret kindness as an invitation to take more and more.

Fourth, do you really want to be seen as having too close of a relationship with one child?  This probably is not too much of an issue if you are just giving the kid a snack, but hey, it is something to always keep in mind in this world we live in.

So no, you are not being a bad teacher or un-Christlike.  You need to protect yourself so you can keep on being a good teacher and keep helping children.

I think @Vort proposed an excellent and very professional way out.

Edited by DoctorLemon

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3 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

I taught my boys to make their own lunches when they were in 1st grade.

This is 2nd grade and I have a kid in my class who actually cooks herself elaborate lunches (apparently Dad is a chef?) and I would gladly have prep a lunch for me anytime.

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12 minutes ago, Backroads said:

. More annoyed.

Don't blame you at all. At all. 

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1 minute ago, Backroads said:

This is 2nd grade and I have a kid in my class who actually cooks herself elaborate lunches (apparently Dad is a chef?) and I would gladly have prep a lunch for me anytime.

Ohhh!  Now you have the magic bullet...

Dear Linda's Mom,

I think you sent the note to the wrong person.  I'm the teacher, not the chef.  It is Susie's dad who is the chef.  But instead of forwarding your note to him, I think it is a better idea if you call him personally so you can set up a time for him to show you how you can teach Linda to make her own lunches.

 

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See, things were different during the Sermon on the Mount.  The whole miracle with the loaves and fishes, happened because the people had shown up and needed to be fed.  Here in America, we have food spilling out of every street corner.  The poorest among us have the highest rates of obesity.  We can't swing a dead cat in any group of people, anywhere in the entire country, without hitting a food truck and a McDonalds.  

Vort's letter is best.  It doesn't even contain a hint of the notion that this mom is a twit who needs an attitude adjustment.  

 

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By the way, if my kids weren't teen-agers anymore, I'd be calling your school district, @Backroads, asking them how they manage to provide healthy lunches.  Our lunches here are pathetic.  Chicken nuggets and peas is what they consider the ultimate in healthy lunch in these parts...

Edited by anatess2

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3 minutes ago, yjacket said:

No, No and No.

No it is not your responsibility, no you are not being unChristlike and I would tell them flat out no.  

Your kid, your responsibility to fed 'em. You don't want to deal with that responsibility-don't have kids.

Sometimes you really need to be more blunt dude. You sugarcoat things too much. 

;)

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I would also say that as much heartbreak as it is-let the kid starve.  I'm actually surprised this is an option though as if my kids ever forget their lunches the school forces them to eat the cafeteria lunch and then bills us; and since we already provided the kids with lunch that they just forgot-the bill gets passed to them in a form of fine taken from their allowance :-) 

It won't kill them, kids don't need that much to eat-the young ones anyways, if mom wants kid to have snacks she can send them.  Really, you could probably buy enough snacks for the kid for a week @ $10.  If they really are that poor, that's what Church is for (or since they probably don't go to church they can go on the dole and get welfare/WICA and suck on taxpayer money).

Now if you see that the child is getting emaciated, etc. clearly from not having enough food-that is another story entirely and that is when the Christlike thing to do is to step in and figure out what is going on for the kids health sake.

Edited by yjacket

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6 minutes ago, yjacket said:

I try MG . . . I try :-).

It's alright dude, we all have a list of things to work on. You should see @Vorts list.  

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7 minutes ago, yjacket said:

I would also say that as much heartbreak as it is-let the kid starve.  

It won't kill them, kids don't need that much to eat, if mom wants kid to have snacks she can send them.  Really, you could probably buy enough snacks for the kid for a week @ $10.  If they really are that poor, that's what Church is for (or since they probably don't go to church they can go on the dole and get welfare/WICA and suck on taxpayer money).

Oh, there's no probably about it!  I can buy enough snacks for an adult... from Whole Foods, even... in under $10!  Let alone a 2nd grader.

As a matter of fact, I have made 4 meals a day (Breakfast, Lunch, Snack, Dinner) for 5 days for 1 person in under $50 from Whole Foods.  All healthy stuff - no Ramen...   Whole Foods is a bit pricey so I can probably make the same thing for under $30 from Walmart.

Edited by anatess2

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11 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

By the way, if my kids weren't teen-agers anymore, I'd be calling your school district, @Backroads, asking them how they manage to provide healthy lunches.  Our lunches here are pathetic.  Chicken nuggets and peas is what they consider the ultimate in healthy lunch in these parts...

Chickpeas, dark greens, various other lentils, all disguised as "kid foods". Now, our junior high is where you really want to go for a tasty lunch, but the elementary lunch is just fine.

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10 minutes ago, yjacket said:

I would also say that as much heartbreak as it is-let the kid starve.  

It won't kill them, kids don't need that much to eat, if mom wants kid to have snacks she can send them.  Really, you could probably buy enough snacks for the kid for a week @ $10.  If they really are that poor, that's what Church is for (or since they probably don't go to church they can go on the dole and get welfare/WICA and suck on taxpayer money).

Actually, the dad is in stake leadership.

Which again makes me question poverty as you think he would know where to go if he truly needed help caring for his family.

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2 minutes ago, Backroads said:

Actually, the dad is in stake leadership.

Which again makes me question poverty as you think he would know where to go if he truly needed help caring for his family.

I wonder if she sent you the note because you're Mormon... like asking for compassionate service at RS (not that it makes it any better).  I wonder if she'd do the same thing if you weren't Mormon.

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3 minutes ago, Backroads said:

Actually, the dad is in stake leadership.

Which again makes me question poverty as you think he would know where to go if he truly needed help caring for his family.

If the dad is in stake leadership, and if poverty really is an issue, suggest that they ask their bishop to help with food. If you want to help out (optional), then offer a fast offering to your bishop. This is the correct route to go.

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57 minutes ago, Backroads said:

Am I being a rotten teacher or, more importantly, unChristlike over this?

Let's see.  Here's my summary of what you've said.

Quote

We have healthy lunches at this school for everybody.

This family doesn't think it's healthy and has chosen a different way.  (so far so good).

She admits she's unable to do things her way, so she's asking you to help her do things her way. (huh???)

Now let's replace the lunches with ANY other value or principle up for debate.

Quote

The Church is the Lord's Church.

Someone doesn't believe in it, and chooses a different faith.  (so far so good).

They admit that other faiths are really lacking the proper tools to raise children in today's world, so they want you to take over teaching the law of chastity, the word of wisdom, let her go to LDS dances, etc.

And you're asking if you're being un-Christlike.  Is that right?

Well, the truth is that we could very well try to teach the law of chastity to a non-LDS youth.  But it would be pretty much meaningless.  Same with the WoW.  Go to dances?  Yeah, i think they can come, but they have to abide by the standards that WE establish.  This would be the equivalent of giving this daughter a "snack" from that same lunch menu that this mother has deemed unhealthy.  So... what exactly did she expect?

Would she ask a Mormon to teach the "good, organic" standards of non-Mormon faiths to her daughter? (Yes, I realize the family is LDS.  I'm making a parallel).

Edited by Guest

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Consider, in a planet where malnutrition and hunger and starvation are things: We enlightened, rich, fat Americans consider it a virtue to identify types of food we will not eat. 

 

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8 minutes ago, Backroads said:

Actually, the dad is in stake leadership.

Which again makes me question poverty as you think he would know where to go if he truly needed help caring for his family.

Hmm, that is bizarre. Do they have other kids or is this their first one?  I guess I could see a fairly new mother pulling this, but generally speaking if you have several kids you understand this stuff isn't the responsibility of the teacher.

Sounds like the Mother is just trying to abrogate her responsibilities. She doesn't "have enough time" (which is just an excuse not a reason) and she doesn't want her baby eating cafeteria food. (Sounds like a spoiled grown-up to me).  

Either have your kid eat the cafeteria lunches or make time to fix 'em lunch . .. that's part of being a responsible adult with your own kids (a.k.a being a parent!).  We are all pressed for time-but who cares-we still have to take care of our own responsibilities and not shirk it to the next schmoe.

And if you truly need help-there are plenty of places that can provide that help! Yes maybe your pride might take a little bit of a hit, but if you need help you are a) honest and upfront about why you need the help and b) go to the right source that can help you.

Edited by yjacket

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