It is true that school lunch programs can save you money but having to save money, while probably the most pressing issue, is not always the most important issue. As a parent you want the very best for your child in every single aspect of life. Reduced-cost or free school lunch programs have a stigma attached to them. Children who are perceived to come from poor or struggling families are very often the targets of ridicule and bullying.
Parents will endure embarrassment or humiliation themselves but they will do anything to save their children from these. Many parents will not even consider applying for school lunch programs out of fear that their children will suffer at the hands of others. If you are one of these parents, then this is for you.
School Lunch Programs Can Save You Money and Keep Your Child Safe
Schools and education departments are well aware of the teasing and bullying going on. For this reason, steps have been taken to ensure the safety of your child.
- Your application is confidential. If you were to ask your children how many other children are in the school lunch programs, the chances are that they would have no idea. Unless a child actually tells everybody that he is in the program, there is no way of finding out.
- Your application is considered locally. Although funding comes from national sources, each application is considered locally and therefore confidentiality is far easy to control and ensure.
- Your child will be issued with exactly the same lunch coupons as everyone else. This is a key issue. Standing in line with a different coupon which screams “Poor kid”, would be a disaster. But there are no special coupons for the lunch program. Once you have been deemed to warrant being in the program, your child is treated exactly the same as any other child.
No-one need ever know that your child is in the school lunch program and by not applying if you need to, you could be doing your child more harm than good. Let’s face it, if you’re a single parent you are probably under a lot of stress. Can you honestly say that you will never forget to pack lunch, or that you will never cut corners on packing a healthy lunch? We are all human and we do err. In addition to that, if you’re concerned that your child does not stand out as a target for ridicule, imagine if the lunch you pack is not as good as the low-cost or free school lunch. Won’t that really make him or her a target? School lunch programs can save you money when you really need it but there are also other reasons why it is a good idea:
- School lunches provide at least thirty percent of your child’s daily nutritional needs. Menus are carefully planned to be balanced and nutritious because that is the law.
- School lunches limit calories derived from fats. Calories derived from fats may not exceed thirty percent and those derived from unsaturated fats may not exceed ten percent of the total number of calories consumed. What that means is that your child will not be fed bad or empty calories.
- School lunches save you time and worry, apart from money. In today’s life, the more stress you can get rid of, the better. Paying for a block of school lunches will leave you with more time and less stress and more money in the long run. It allows you to plan and budget far more easily.
Packing homemade lunches are very often counter-productive because it will always be more expensive and less reliable. To top it off, these lunches are very often thrown away because they have become hot and soggy during the day.
How To Get Free School Lunches Regardless Of Your Income
There is a way to get school lunches absolutely free, no matter how much you earn. Many public and non-profit private schools are in the school lunch program but there are three ways in which they can be a part of it. These are known simply as Provisions One, Two or Three. If you find a school that is on Provision Two, you will still have to apply and go through the usual process because they do have to submit accurate records in order to claim reimbursements, but all of the lunches are provided free to all of the children. Provision Two is designed to ease the load and the cost of record keeping for schools and it works like this:
- The Base Year. The first year is known as the Base Year when all applications must be submitted and considered. The ratio between paid, low-cost and free lunches is determined and these figures are used to calculate the reimbursement claims. If no application has been received from a child, his lunch is considered to be a “paid” lunch even though he does not actually pay for it.
- Claims are submitted every four years. This cuts down on record keeping and is especially helpful to schools that have mostly low-cost or free lunches. They keep a simple record of how many lunches are served each day, regardless of whether they are “paid” or not and are reimbursed after four years.
- Schools are not reimbursed for “paid” lunches. Because of this, the school has got to weigh the cost of providing free lunches to everyone against the savings in record keeping costs. Many schools that serve mostly free or low-cost lunches find Provision Two very favourable.
A Final Word
There is no need to avoid school lunch programs at all. Your child will not be singled out for ridicule in any way, he or she will fed healthy, nutritious food and you will have one less daily worry. School lunch programs can save you money, time, effort and stress which make them worth applying for.