ATTLEBORO — As many as 25 students at Coelho Middle School were denied meals or told to throw their lunches away Tuesday because they could not pay or their pre-paid accounts did not contain enough money, school officials said today.
Parents said some of the children cried after they were not allowed to eat or had to toss out their lunches.
School officials said an on-site employee from Whitson’s, the school system’s school lunch provider, apparently gave the order not to extend meals to students who could not pay or whose credit was already overextended. SOURCE
Imagine, for a second, the mindset required to force hungry children to throw food in the garbage? It’s not like the food was given to a child that could pay, it was just wasted. It’s the ultimate in conservative thought: I will gain nothing from this but the satisfaction of knowing you did not get a free meal.
This is why privatizing government functions is a bad idea is almost every circumstance but particularly in those that provide a direct service. Once a profit motive is introduced, it ceases to be about fulfilling a public need, now it becomes about making a profit by any means necessary. The idea of providing children a nutritious meal so they can grow and learn and contribute to society becomes a narrow and selfish pursuit of the bottom line. If children are left to go hungry, well, that’s capitalism for you!
It’s not as if they couldn’t feed them, the district has a policy where a student that can’t pay for the regular meal will be provided with a cheese sandwich and milk. It’s not the most appealing of meals but it will certainly keep a child fed. But instead, this privately run company decided that over twenty kids simply shouldn’t eat if it was going to cost the company money:
Parents said they were told by their children that some pupils in the cafeteria line had already picked up their lunch and were told at the checkout they had to throw it away.
Victoria Greaves, 11, a fifth grader at Coelho, said a cashier told her to throw away her lunch because there was not enough money in her account. She said she threw her meal away and got nothing to eat.
We’re left to wonder what the cashier planned on doing if the child refused to comply. Would they physically take the food away? Was the couple of dollars really that important?
The larger question that isn’t being asked yet is how did we come to a point where anyone can even think that depriving children of food is a moral thing to do? In the richest nation on Earth, are we so blinded by greed and the pursuit of the Holy Dollar that we don’t even consider that going out of our way to let a child go hungry to be the act of a sociopath? Would we rather throw food in the garbage than let someone eat it for free? Who thinks that way?
House Republicans recently proposed cuts to nutrition assistance that will kick 280,000 low-income children off automatic enrollment in the Free School Lunch and Breakfast Program. Those same kids and 1.5 million other people will also lose their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamp benefits) that help them afford food at home.
“How they must bleed for us. In 2012, the world’s 100 richest people became $241 billion richer. They are now worth $1.9 trillion: just a little less than the entire output of the United Kingdom.
This is not the result of chance. The rise in the fortunes of the super-rich is the direct result of policies. Here are a few: the reduction of tax rates and tax enforcement; governments’ refusal to recoup a decent share of revenues from minerals and land; the privatisation of public assets and the creation of a toll-booth economy; wage liberalisation and the destruction of collective bargaining.
The policies that made the global monarchs so rich are the policies squeezing everyone else. This is not what the theory predicted. Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and their disciples – in a thousand business schools, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD and just about every modern government – have argued that the less governments tax the rich, defend workers and redistribute wealth, the more prosperous everyone will be. Any attempt to reduce inequality would damage the efficiency of the market, impeding the rising tide that lifts all boats. The apostles have conducted a 30-year global experiment, and the results are now in. Total failure.
As I say, I have no dog in this race, except a belief that no one, in this sea of riches, should have to be poor. But staring dumbfounded at the lessons unlearned in Britain, Europe and the US, it strikes me that the entire structure of neoliberal thought is a fraud. The demands of the ultra-rich have been dressed up as sophisticated economic theory and applied regardless of the outcome. The complete failure of this world-scale experiment is no impediment to its repetition. This has nothing to do with economics. It has everything to do with power.”
—If you think we’re done with neoliberalism, think again | The Guardian | George Monbiot
U.S. colleges such as Boston University are using financial aid to lure rich students while shortchanging the poor, forcing those most in need to take on heavy debt, a report found.
“Colleges are always saying how committed they are to admitting low-income students — that they are all about equality,” Burd said in a phone interview. “This data shows there’s been a dramatic shift. The pursuit of prestige and revenue has led them to focus more on high-income students.”
Hundreds of poor people waiting outside of a closed grocery store for the possibility of getting the remaining food is not the picture of the “American Dream.” Yet on March 23, outside the Laney Walker Supermarket in Augusta, Ga., that is exactly what happened.
Residents filled the parking lot with bags and baskets hoping to get some of the baby food, canned goods, noodles and other non-perishables. But a local church never came to pick up the food, as the storeowner prior to the eviction said they had arranged. By the time the people showed up for the food, what was left inside the premises—as with any eviction—came into the ownership of the property holder, SunTrust Bank.
The bank ordered the food to be loaded into dumpsters and hauled to a landfill instead of distributed. The people that gathered had to be restrained by police as they saw perfectly good food destroyed. Local Sheriff Richard Roundtree told the news “a potential for a riot was extremely high.”
And what would be more likely to cause a riot? Hungry, desperate people denied the food they were told they would receive, or distribution of said food? I’d be tempted to say that this is capitalism at its most dysfunctional, but it’s actually functioning as it is supposed to here. If a commodity can’t turn a profit for a capitalist, the capitalist is encouraged by the profit motive to dispose of the good quickly. As the author, Sarah Carlson, writes:
In a capitalist society, the motive behind the production of food is not to feed people, housing is not made to give them shelter, clothing is not made to keep them warm, and health care is not offered primarily to keep people healthy. All of these things, which are and should be viewed as basic rights, are nothing other than commodities—to be bought and sold—from which to make a profit. If a profit cannot be made, usually due to overproduction in relation to the market, the commodity is considered useless by the capitalist and destroyed.
Disgusting and heartbreaking. This is not an economic crisis — this is economic violence.
“Imagine if you had to explain to your three children and grandchild that they had to go to bed hungry because the deficit in the national budget is more important than the deficit of food on the table."
—Melissa Harris-Perry, in her “Open Letter” to Rep. Frank Lucas, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, on re-authorization of the Farm Bill.