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Web letter by Marian Daly: Singling out free-lunch students nothing short of Dickensian

The letter from William R. Troehler on May 13 (“Lunch plan teaches self-respect”) could have been written by Ebenezer Scrooge prior to the visits from the three spirits. “If they are going to die, let them do it and reduce the excess population!” Oliver Twist had the temerity to ask for more gruel: “May I have some more, sir?” Oliver was soon on the street with little hope for a future meal. And now we have Troehler, whose words may also live in infamy – “Students who receive free lunches should pick up cafeteria trash or other things. This will teach them self-respect and that you should not get something for nothing.”

We do not give needed help with one hand and expect repayment with the other. We help because it is the right thing to do. A child who arrives at school hungry and with no money for lunch should not be considered cheap help. This child obviously already has problems. Did this child have breakfast? Will this child have dinner? Will this child have food over the weekend or how about over school vacation? What happens to a hungry child when he or she is out of view?

We do not know what has caused the hunger in this child. Why in the world would you want to add to this child’s problems by bringing attention to his or her lack of money? This child is just as good and just as deserving as any other child. No one should be aware of who is or is not paying cash for their lunch and who might be having a free lunch. It is a private matter.

If this child is receiving only one meal per day, why should this little sustenance be used in the energy expended in picking up someone else’s trash?

Do not add to this child’s problems. Do not embarrass this child. It is not the child’s fault. A child’s hunger is never the child’s fault. There could be many reasons. Perhaps the school should discreetly check into the child’s home situation to ensure that the child does not have prolonged periods of hunger.

The No. 1 priority of all Americans should be to care for our children. Yes, we pay taxes. If our taxes pay for anything at all, the first priority should be to ensure the proper nutrition of America’s children – all of America’s children. Please don’t ever call food given to a child a handout. If you truly want children to have pride, begin by showing them respect.


Fort Wayne