Please pardon while Shawndra leaves the room for a bit and allows Jeni to vent.
I hate telling kids I can't feed them. HATE IT. Yes, I know, hate is a very strong word. I would be alright telling a junior high student or a high school student to take a hike, but elementary kids? I know sometimes we forget, and that is why, at least where I work, they allow them to charge. It's not a huge amount, but it should be sufficient for the once in a while rush when they forget to hand Johnny his lunch money or box. We even have a system in place for when their account is at it's charge limit. But what kid wants a plate with salad and a milk only, especially when there are such wonders as corn dogs, uncrustables, cheese pizza, and sloppy joes on the menu? None of them do. The lips pout, the eyes tear up, the sniffles commence. I should not have to be the big meanie and tell them no. I would like to have the parent, instead, in line and me telling them they can't have their lunch and that they have to wait until 3:00 when they get home to have it. Then make them go sit in the cafeteria with all their buddies with an apple and a milk and try not to cry because they really wanted a hot dog and tater tots instead.
If you can't afford it, pick up the application! There is no difference between a free lunch and a paid lunch when the kids step up and touch their button. None of them care one bit. Why should you? Please, make the lunch lady happy and take care of your kiddos. She'll go home a little less heavy hearted, knowing she turned away one less kid today, and had to call one less parent's answering service to tell them she served Jessica an emergency lunch. Because, even if she looks like a mean old ogre, she still has a soft spot for these kids, or she wouldn't be there everyday serving them.