Meet Della Curry, the kitchen manager at Dakota Valley Elementary School in Aurora, Colo. Wait, make that former kitchen manager. On Friday, the Cherry Creek School District fired her for handing school lunches to hungry kids who had no lunch money.
But Curry tells CBS 4’s Tom Mustin she’d “do it again in a heartbeat.” And so would you, unless you’re the kind of person who can turn down a weeping little first grade girl.
“I had a first grader in front of me, crying, because she doesn’t have enough money for lunch. Yes, I gave her lunch.”
But isn’t there a government programs for free and reduced-priced school lunches? Curry explains:
“Kids who make too much money to qualify, but a lot of the time they don’t have enough money to eat.”
Thanks to the toxic combination of rising living costs, draconian budget cuts, stagnant wages and outdated federal poverty guidelines, too many of our children are falling through the cracks. In Colorado, students from family of four making less than $31,000 a year qualify for free school lunch, while a family of four making less than $45,000 a year qualifies for reduced-price school lunch. Yet, in Colorado, $31,000 a year ($15 per hour) isn’t even enough to rent a two-bedroom apartment.
And here’s an even more alarming fact: 51 percent of children in our nation’s public schools do qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch, even under these horribly outdated guidelines.
What Is The Cost Of A School Lunch?
The cost of school lunches varies by school, age group, and district. At Dakota Valley Elementary, the price per school lunch is $2.80. If that doesn’t sound like a lot to you, then congratulations on having never been so broke you’re scrounging for change in your seat cushions to buy the two gallons of gas you need to get to work this week, and then something you can’t afford to have happen winds up happening again.
Lawmakers who slash budgets and quibble over the cost of a school lunch are not only senselessly cruel, they’re penny wise and pound foolish. Instead of asking about the cost of a school lunch, we should ask about the cost of not providing all children with a school lunch…and enough nutritious food in general. Over 15 million children in America live in food-insecure households.When we don’t give our children enough to eat, we rob them of their health, their ability to perform well in school, and the opportunity to reach their full potential as happy, healthy and productive adults.
Although schools are supposed to feed children school lunch regardless of their ability to pay, federal law only requires them to provide a slice of cheese on a hamburger bun and a container of milk.
Curry told CBS 4 that’s “not sufficient” and adds that she has often paid for kids school lunches out of her own pocket. And yes, Curry knows she broke the law in giving kids school lunches they couldn’t pay for. But she insists that the law needs to change, and she has a valid point.
Here’s the video with the news report on Curry getting fired for giving free lunches to hungry school children from CBS 4.