Or, so today’s trending headlines would have you believe. But let me back up a second…
When I was a child, my dream was to become the world’s greatest journalist. That dream died young in my experiences working at a newspaper in high school and college, when I quickly learned that “slanting” your story to incite readers and sell papers was more important than reporting reality.
I went to college, became a counselor, stayed in this career until I had my own children. I was a stay-at-home Mom for 12 years until my husband’s layoff prompted me back into the workforce. I now work at a school district of 9500 children as the manager of the free and reduced lunch program.
I have the most mundane clerical job in the world. But then Utah started pulling trays out of the hands of school children with negative lunch balances…and MN saw a story there and created this: http://www.startribune.com/local/244819041.html
Lord have mercy. Since this hit the wire, our office has had phone calls from parents, citizens, news sources, radio stations etc…over information that isn’t even true. Work is no longer mundane.
If you didn’t read the story from the link above, the jist of it is this: A majority of MN schools deny hot lunches to children who can’t pay for them.
This is 100% FALSE.
Not ONE CHILD in the state of Minnesota, under the Minnesota Department of Education’s policies and guidelines, who cannot afford a meal, is denied a hot lunch. If a person cannot pay for a meal because they live at poverty level, they qualify and receive free meals. Always.
A person who CAN pay for a meal, but won’t? Those people are allowed to go $5.00 in the negative before we say, hey, today you have to eat a sandwich, fruit and milk instead of the hot lunch, until you start to pay on your balance. And we won’t even charge you for this cold lunch!
So the CORRECT statement would be: A majority of MN schools offer free cold lunches to children who can pay for their hot lunches but have a current negative balance in their account.
Yes, a sandwich, fruit and milk is given to the student. We give it to them free. So, they can afford a hot lunch, continue to not pay for what they’ve already eaten, and we still feed them on the school’s dime.
Photo: Fort Worth Star-Telegram
So people, please…media is designed to get you all worked up. It sells papers and fattens their wallets. The truth of the matter is, every single child in this state who cannot afford lunch, fills out a single piece of paper, and gets free lunch for the rest of the school year. Always.
No student who lives at the poverty level, and cannot afford a meal, is ever denied a hot lunch.
There is a huge difference between CAN’T PAY, and CAN PAY but DOESN’T…and the news media is playing you like a fiddle.
You’re so right about the continued push for sensationalism in news, particularly in broadcast journalism where agencies are in such a hurry to be first that they often get it wrong. Or only tell a portion of the story. Probably why I became a columnist instead of a hard-news journalist; I get to be a sensationalist every day 😉
That said, this was really well done. And thank you for what you do for the kids in your district.
Thank you, Ned! I work my butt off to make sure that those who are disadvantaged are taken care of. And news stories like the one I mentioned just exploit these people so they can sell news. We actually go above and beyond to take care of the people in Minnesota, so this type of reporting really chaps my hide. My school district, with 9500 students, has 54% currently on free and reduced lunches. Four of our 13 schools have a 75% and higher rate of students in the building on the program. One school in particular of almost 500 students, is 91% on free/reduced, and it is NOT an alternative education school. So I’m a bit sensitive when we are spending our time reassuring our community that we aren’t abusing our youngsters.
Thank YOU for what you do in bringing humor to all the people who read you during their work day 😉
Wait. You work your butt off?
You still have a lot of journalist in you, as this blog demonstrates. And as for the school lunch program, that is great. My wife serves lunches at our local elementary school and is blown away by what our schools offer both for free and for pay. I just wish she would feed me like she feeds those school kids! Sometimes she does (school lunch leftovers are not always the best).
Got to second the Ned comments. I need to send you a copy of his book so you can utilize your talents as a photographer…..
Much like Pat appeared to be neither male nor female (SNL) – it is hard to tell if what media is putting forth is true or false. Factual ambiguity greatly displeases me. Outlets go out of there way to write false stories to offset the one that are actually true. This is by design to keep those you have little patience or tolerance for this wore down and out of the loop because they do not have the energy to search out the truth.
Seems you’re better at journalism than the Star Tribune…