View Full Version : All SF “Upstanders” Lessen the Stigma of School Meals

04-04-2012, 09:57 AM
From BeyondChron (http://www.beyondchron.org/news/index.php?itemid=10030) by Dana Woldow:

The traditional image of a school bully was the kid threatening other kids into handing over their lunch money – but these days, bullying and school lunch have a whole other connection. While overt bullying of poor students by wealthier students is a problem at lunchtime in some communities, in other schools with multicultural populations, “lunchbox bullying” may occur when students bring food from their own culture which is unfamiliar to others.

Then there is a less obvious, but still painful, kind of bullying in which students make loud derogatory (and often baseless) comments about the school’s hot lunch, even as other students are lining up to get that free meal. The stigma attached to school lunch, and its effect on students, continues to be a problem in our public schools.

Actions by San Francisco Unified School District to combat the stigma, and its associated opportunities for bullying, include installation of a $1 million swipe card/PIN number system to ensure privacy at cafeteria checkout. Schools have done away with a la carte snack lines that unintentionally created economic segregation by luring students with money away from the hot meal, isolating the poorest students in that line. New full meal choices at the middle and high schools offer every student a variety of daily specials. No one can tell, either at the checkout point or by looking at a student's meal, who paid cash and who got a government- paid lunch.

All of these efforts have worked to an extent, and almost 3,000 more middle and high school students are eating school meals now than several years ago. But the stigma has been around for decades, with students jeering at “mystery meat” or calling school lunch “welfare food”; sometimes it is hard to tell if students are rejecting the food itself, or the general “uncoolness” of school cuisine. Is it that kids don't want to eat the food, or that they don't want to be ridiculed for eating it?

read more>> (http://www.beyondchron.org/news/index.php?itemid=10030)