at one point in the past both i and my wife have done the substitute teaching thing short term. here are a few observations.
not all kids get free lunches. in our local school about 40% of the kids get free or reduced price lunch. of course the parents have to fill out the paperwork. not sure how many are free, and how many are reduced price. but this is done (of course) at the lunch room.
for breakfast, the kids do not go to the lunch room. they don't want to take the time to go thru this process. so the school simply calculates how many kids in each room gets free lunch, and they just send the stuff to the room. not every kid wants it. so it is like a free-for-all. whoever wants it,... just grabs some. it was a small milk, and a granola bar. they do not even check on who is qualified. there is normally more than enough for whoever wants something. so they eat while doing their early morning school work.
there is no 3rd meal. only 2. and not all the kids who qualify take the breakfast.
the school administrators like this program for one simple reason. kids do better in school when they have a full belly. and there is always pressure on schools to make sure that kids are succeeding.
the school lunch program is about 80% of the dept of Ag budget. (last i checked).
farm subsidies are actually a much smaller part of the dept of Ag budget.
btw,... all foster kids can automatically qualify for the free school lunch. but there were times when the kid did not want the food being served that day, so we were happy to pack a lunch for them.
there is one school in the poorest are of tucson where about 90% of the kids get a free lunch.
my in-laws church has a couple programs. at the poorest school in the city, they go there on friday afternoon, and they take each kid a lunch bag, full of snacks for the weekend. granola bars, juice boxes, peanut butter crackers, etc. so if the parent spent all the money on beer, at least the kid won't go hungry over the weekend. (and they get the free school lunch and breakfast during the week).
they also provide in-class help for the teacher, help with reading, math, etc.
it is so much easier for a teacher to have control over the classroom, when there is a second adult in the room. it helps the kids and helps the teacher.
that is something useful for a retiree to do, rather than just sit and watch TV all day.
Wonderful post bear!
Helping to enlighten us about something not many are familiar with like you.
Over a decade ago, the school lunches started carrying much healthier meals to help make kids healthier.
I remember having lunch with my sons(that we paid for) over 25 years ago at school numerous times.
I was blown away at how much food was NOT eaten and ended up in the trash. Our kids went to a mostly medium/high income families public school that likely did not feature many getting their lunch for free.
It's been nice being the chess coach at schools in this district because the kids from high achieving parents, generally follow the same path.
And when its time to help me at the big chess tournament that I run(200 kids-25 schools K-12), they respond generously as well as give constant support to their child in everything their kid does.
It's very sad to see the inner city chess programs struggle from lack of this same kind of support.
I reserve seats for everybody at our chess tournament and block them off for each school so everybody can sit with everybody else from the same school.
The kids at my schools always have at least one parent, often both parents and even another family member.
80 of the kids in the tournament are from my schools. I will usually block off around 200 seats for those 80, which is around 2.5 seats for each kid.
With the inner city schools, very often a teacher will get a van/vehicle that can transport up to 10 kids and drive them.
Most kids have 0 parents there but several might have 1 parent.
If we have 10 kids from those situations, I will block off 15 seats, assuming 1 parent for every 2 kids and that's actually being generous. So 1.5 seats for each kid.
I see this on 1 day a year in March for the chess tournament. However, during the other 364 days a year, this also defines the difference in family support these kids get with regards to everything they do.
When I explain this to other people, I've had a few of them say "maybe the poor kids parents all had to work and that's why they can't come".
If that was the case and it was such a pronounced effect because of parents working so hard, then you wonder why the poor families all stay poor (-: