Wednesday, January 23, 2013
On Pizza Day
My children's school - and I only have the luxury of saying that for the rest of the school year, because The Girl is off to high school in the fall, if you want to know what time rushing by feels like - has hot lunches once a week, when they make a big pizza order. But! Should you want pizza, you will need a pizza card - a pre-bought card that entitles you to a certain number of slices - and this pizza card costs close to $40, so my children only rarely have one. Even when we can afford them, we're just too damn cheap.
A few years ago, you could buy pizza by the slice and so my kids DID get to take part once a month or so. But the shift to requiring a pre-paid pizza card has made it inaccessible - not just to my kids, but to a lot of other children in our low-income area. And while I don't think equal access to pizza is a huge social justice issue - it's more of an issue about the limited number of harried parent volunteers, and I ALSO don't think that my kids are all that hard-done-by for not taking part in the doughy school pizza - school lunches themselves are a landmine of issues for kids.
For example: some kids get to bring Lunchables and pop to school EVERY DAY, as I am reminded frequently by my poor, poor children, who are forced to bring (reasonably) healthy lunches to school by their cruel tyrant of a mother. Some kids bring elaborate hand-crafted lunches, courtesy of their mothers who take Pinterest REALLY SERIOUSLY. And some kids bring sparse, heartbreaking little lunches that whisper quietly of neglect, of living on the edge of hunger all the time.
"A friend of mine didn't have much of a lunch, so I gave him most of mine," said G after school, shruggingly explaining why he needed such a big snack.
The same volunteers who run the pizza program quietly fill up snack bins in each class - granola bars, applesauce cups, cookies - that all of the kids are free to take from during lunchtime. And they do: N frequently comes home with granola bar wrappers in her lunchbox that I KNOW I didn't send in with her and while I'm not enthusiastic about this nutritionally, morally I am all for this pragmatic way of helping hungry children while protecting their dignity. It is only a stop-gap measure, of course, but it's something.
And then on pizza day, I get up - dammit! - half an hour earlier than normal to make homemade miniature pizzas for my kids. It's a pain, but it's only a small piece of work on my part to keep my kids feeling included. The bigger, never-ending job is finding ways to keep all kids included in a system with limited funds, limited time and limited volunteers and problems that go far beyond easy solutions.
Today's school lunch: nothing. School was cancelled because of the extreme cold.
Posted by Beck at 11:20 AM