Cheese Sandwhich of Shame for kids of deadbeat parents

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, Day Care & Education

"Pay up, or the kid gets the Cheese Sandwich of Shame!"

That, in no uncertain terms, is the message that Chula Vista Elementary School is sending to parents who don't pay for their kids' school lunches. Instead of pizza, burgers, or macaroni, children of non-payers get an "alternate meal," which amounts to a plain a cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread.

The plan worked -- reducing the school district's lunch debts from $300,000 in 2004 to $67,000 in 2006 -- but parents have complained that it's needlessly humiliating (especially those who owed as little as $7.50 in unpaid fees).

At first, I'm inclined to agree -- it seems like a horrible thing to do to a kid at an age where it's already so easy to be embarrassed. On the other hand, the debt had reached a point where schools were considering cutting back in other areas -- like classroom supplies -- and administrators had to do something.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.