There was a Peanuts strip once in which Charlie Brown told Linus that shoes squeak because they haven’t been paid for. “Do you mean to tell me that just because my dad hasn’t paid his bill I have to walk around in squeaky shoes?” Linus implored.
We have tried to make plain for some time now that we would like to see the 9-R school district end the practice of lunch shaming, whereby students whose parents are in slight arrears on meal payments are served a partial lunch consisting of a cheese stick or a granola bar (you cannot have both), and fruit.
We wrote about this again not long ago, imploring the 9-R board to finally address and fix it (“It’s time to give every Durango student a full midday meal,” Jan. 24).
Now concerned citizens have taken up the cudgels. They determined that as of Jan. 24, lunch debt for the entire district was $2,629, they said, and, within two weeks, they had paid it all off, comprising some generous donations. But they also realized the debt would start accumulating again the next day if more was not done.
On Sunday, Jessica Obleton posted a petition at change.org, “Remove partial meal policy in Durango School District 9R.” It shrewdly calls on the school board to change the district policies and regulations that make lunch-shaming possible in Durango.
By Monday morning, the petition had almost 800 signatures, along with many signers’ statements. This one is typical: “This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! It’s not a child’s fault their parents can’t afford school lunch.”
We asked school board President Shere Byrd for a response. She told us the board would meet Tuesday afternoon at a work session and would specifically address the petition then.
Lunch policy is not listed on the session’s agenda, and it is not clear to us that the many people who paid off the debt and who signed the petition realize the board finally plans to address the problem or formulate a response to their petition then.
The meeting starts at 4:30 p.m., at the 9-R Administration Building, on East 12th Street. It is open to the public – although the board does not usually allow public comments at a work session.