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.

Ah. Well, that explains that, doesn’t it?

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