Episode 1042 | The Line: School Lunch Shaming Legislation

Episode 1042 | The Line: School Lunch Shaming Legislation

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>>WELCOME BACK TO THE LINE. THIS WEEK A BILL PASSED IN THE
STATE LEGISLATURE MADE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL
HEADLINES. THE LEGISLATION SIGNED BY
GOVERNOR MARTINEZ ENDS WHAT IS KNOWN AS LUNCH SHAMING. THAT IS A PRACTICE IN SCHOOL. WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE VARIES IN
DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY CERTAINLY BUT
MIGHT BE SERVING A STUDENT A COLD CHEESE SANDWICH, OR
STAMPING ON THEIR ARM, NEEDS LUNCH MONEY OR REQUIRING THAT
STUDENTS DO CHORES FOR A HOT MEAL. NO. SENATOR PADILLA SPONSORED THE
BILL. IT IS PERSONAL. LET’S HEAR WHAT HE TOLD OUR
PRODUCER, SARAH GUSTAVUS, EARLIER THIS WEEK.>>I HAVE HERITAGE HIGH SCHOOL
IN MY DISTRICT, THE LARGEST HIGH SCHOOL IN NEW MEXICO,
2800 KIDS. THERE MIGHT BE 400 STUDENTS
WITH DEBT WITH THE LUNCHROOM. YOU KNOW. SO, WHAT THIS DOES IS IT
CREATES MORE OF A CONSTANT FUNDING FLOW THROUGH FEDERAL
SUBSIDIES TO THE SCHOOL RATHER THAN CHASING DOWN PARENTS THAT
MIGHT OWE THEM MONEY. NONE OF THAT GOES AWAY WITH
THE LEGISLATION. THE PARENTS — THE SCHOOL CAN
STILL COLLECT ON THAT DEBT, STILL MAKE SURE THAT IS TAKEN
CARE OF. HOWEVER THIS JUST KIND OF
CORRECTS A WRONG THAT HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR DECADES.>>WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO KIDS
THAT YOU WANTED TO SEE STOP?>>WELL, A COUPLE THINGS. WHEN I WAS GROWING UP, I GREW
UP IN FOSTER HOMES, IN THE ALL FAITHS RECEIVING HOME FOR
HOMELESS CHILDREN, DIFFERENT FOCUS NOW, BUT MY SISTERS AND
I GREW UP THERE. AND I CAN REMEMBER HAVING TO
SET DOWN TABLES AND CHAIRS FOR THE OTHER KIDS TO SIT AND HAVE
THEIR LUNCH. I CAN REMEMBER AT END OF THE
LUNCH HOUR OR EACH LUNCH HOUR, THERE WERE A COUPLE OF THEM,
HAVING TO CLEAN THE TABLES MYSELF, HAVING TO CLEAN IN THE
KITCHEN JUST SO THAT I WOULD BE GIVEN MAYBE A PIECE OF
BREAD AND CHEESE FOR LUNCH. SO, THE STIGMATIZING THESE
CHILDREN THAT WAY CAN POSSIBLY LAST FOR THE REST OF THEIR
LIVES.>>INTERESTINGLY A BIPARTISAN
BILL. A LOT OF FOLKS GOT THIS AND
CLEARLY IT WAS SIGNED AND BLOWN UP. IT’S AMAZING. THREE OR FOUR PEOPLE HAVE BEEN
ON NATIONAL TV, A NERVE HAS BEEN TOUCHED HERE. WE TALKED ABOUT THIS ISSUE WAY
BACK WHEN, WHEN STUDENTS WERE BEING SHAMED. IS THIS THE ANSWER TO YOU? HAS THIS BEEN SOLVED?>>NO, BECAUSE I THINK WHILE
THIS IS A GOOD BILL, I AM THRILLED IT PASSED, THRILLED
THE GOVERNOR SIGNED IT, THE ISSUE IS IMPLEMENTATION. SO, HOW DO SCHOOLS ACTUALLY
MAKE THIS HAPPEN? WHAT TIME LINE DO THEY MAKE IT
HAPPEN AND WHAT DECISIONS DO THEY MAKE IN ORDER TO PROVIDE
LUNCHES TO KIDS AND SO, I MEAN, I JUST THINK WE ARE
GOING TO BE BACK HERE IN A YEAR OR TWO SAYING OKAY, SO
HOW DID THIS WORK OUT? THERE ARE SOME SCHOOLS I AM
SURE THAT GET SUED OVER THE ISSUE. A LOT OF WORKING THROUGH IT
AND, YOU KNOW, LIKE MY HOPE IS THAT IT DOESN’T HIT THE KIDS,
THAT THIS CREATES AN IMMEDIATE POSITIVE CHANGE FOR THE KIDS
AND I THINK IT REMAINS TO BE SEEN IF THAT HAPPENS. BUT I CAN NOT SAY ENOUGH. THANK YOU TO THE SPONSORS OF
THE BILL. THANK YOU FOR PUTTING IT
FORWARD AND FOR THE GOVERNOR SIGNING IT AND I AM THRILLED
THAT OUR STATE IS THE ONE THAT BROUGHT THIS TO PUBLIC
ATTENTION.>>ANDY, IN A STATE WITH SO
MUCH FOOD INSECURITY AND SO MUCH POVERTY, THE IDEA WE WERE
SENDING KIDS BACK TO AFTERNOONS WORTH OF CLASS WORK
ON AN EMPTY STOMACH, IT IS UNBELIEVABLE. HAVE WE SOLVED THE PROBLEM? ARE WE IN THE CLEAR HERE?>>I DON’T THINK SO. I THINK IT IS MAYBE IN THE
RIGHT DIRECTION BUT AGAIN IMPLEMENTATION, THERE IS A
LITTLE VAGUENESS HOW THEY ARE GOING TO DO THIS. I KIND OF UNDERSTAND THE IDEA
THAT THEY’LL SAVE TIME AND ENERGY FROM TRYING TO COLLECT
FROM THOSE PARENTS THAT HAVEN’T PAID, BUT THERE IS
STILL MORE QUESTIONS AS FAR AS HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE THAT YOU
JUST DON’T HAVE THIS DEBT SITTING OUT THERE. HOW DO YOU OPERATE OR RUN A
LUNCHROOM WITHOUT MONEY?>>CURIOUS IF THIS IS A
FUNCTION OF BAD POLICY, BAD INDIVIDUAL DECISIONS, BAD
CULTURE? HOW DO THESE DECISIONS GET TO
THE SURFACE, WHERE SOMEONE COULD TURN AWAY A KID AT A
LUNCH COUNTER AND NOBODY SAYS ANYTHING ABOUT IT? LIKE IT IS JUST ACCEPTED AS
THE THING TO DO.>>YOU KNOW, HAVING HAD MY
KIDS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, I WANT TO SAY THANK YOU, SENATOR
PADILLA BECAUSE THIS DOES HAPPEN ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND
LET ME LABEL THE DRAGON LADIES OF FLORIDA. I HAVE NEVER SEEN INDIVIDUALS
TREAT CHILDREN SO BADLY. AND SO I HAVE TO JUST GO BACK
TO, ARE YOU UNABLE TO DISTINGUISH AN ADULT PROBLEM
THAT IS NOT THE CHILD’S DOING? AND THAT REALLY KIND OF GETS
TO THE CORE OF YOUR QUESTION IS WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? A LOT OF IT IS LEADERSHIP. IT HAPPENS IN THE LUNCHROOM
AND IF THE PRINCIPAL DOESN’T SAY, YOU MAY NOT TREAT OUR
CHILDREN LIKE THIS, IT IS REALLY EASY BUT I HAVE GOT TO
ASK THE QUESTION, IS THIS COURAGE? IS THIS USING CHILDREN AS A
HUMAN SHIELD? HOW IS THAT ANY BETTER BUT
THAT IS THE RESULT. AND, HAVING SEEN THIS — YOU
KNOW — I WAS HOPING IT HAD GONE AWAY BUT IT HAS NOT AND
ANDY IS RIGHT, WE ARE NOT FINISHED.>>TEXAS AND CALIFORNIA ARE
LOOKING AT SIMILAR LEGISLATION. THE IDEA AGAIN, OSTRACIZING A
CHILD OR MAKING A CHILD FEEL LIKE — LIKE A COLD CHILL GOES
RIGHT THROUGH ME. IT IS INCREDIBLE, BUT SENATOR
PADILLA, WHEN HE CAN SPEAK TO AN ISSUE FROM A PERSONAL POINT
OF VIEW, YES, HE HAS PUNCHED THROUGH IN HIS LIFE BUT IF
THEY COME UP HUNGRY THEY DON’T PUNCH THROUGH. IS IT OUR JOB TO HELP KIDS
THAT WAY? GOVERNMENT’S JOB? TAXPAYERS JOB? IS IT ON ALL OF US TO MAKE
SURE EVERY KID HAS A FULL STOMACH?>>BOTH THE LEGISLATURE AND
THE GOVERNOR CERTAINLY THINK SO. SCHOOLS ARE — BEING A TEACHER
OR CAFETERIA WORKER, THOSE ARE FRONT LINE JOBS WHERE YOU
ENCOUNTER SOME OF THE WORST PROBLEMS IN SOCIETY. YOU CAN’T IGNORE IT. SO THESE PROBLEMS CROP UP IN
SCHOOLS AND OTHER PLACES. I THINK THAT THIS LEGISLATION
IS SOMETHING THAT IT WAS A RARE BRIGHT SPOT FOR THE
GOVERNOR AND LAWMAKERS, THEY BOTH AGREED ON THIS. THEY HAVE HOPE IT WILL MAKE A
DIFFERENCE.>>A GOOD THING, ON A VERY
GOOD THING.>>THERE IS SOME CITIZEN WORK
OUT THERE THAT TRIED TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM. FOLKS CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS TO
HELP PAY DOWN THE COSTS OF THESE THINGS FOR PARENTS,
ANONYMOUSLY. MAKE ANONYMOUS DONATIONS. IS THAT WHERE WE SHOULD BE AS
A PUBLIC, PAYING DOWN OTHER KIDS’ SCHOOL LUNCHES? YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN?>>I DEFINITELY THINK THAT IS
A POSITIVE WAY TO DO IT. THERE SEEMS TO BE, IF YOU KIND
OF PUT THE WORD OUT THERE AND ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO DO IT, BUT
DON’T REQUIRE THEM TO DO IT YOU’RE NOT RAISING TAXES BUT
YOU SAY, KIND OF LIKE, GIVING A UNITED WAY DONATION. IF YOU WANT TO DONATE TO
SOMEONE’S LUNCH.>>I DISAGREE. THIS IS A FAILURE OF THE
GOVERNMENT TO ADEQUATELY TAX IN ORDER TO MAKE SURE WE COVER
THE COSTS WE NEED TO COVER AND REALLY, GOING BACK TO REAGAN,
THIS DRUM BEAT OF, OH, COMMUNITY WILL TAKE CARE OF
IT, CHURCHES WILL TAKE CARE OF AND NONPROFITS, YOU KNOW WHAT,
THIS IS A GOVERNMENT RESPONSIBILITY. AT THIS POINT IT MAY NOT HAVE
BEEN 50 YEARS AGO THAT WE EXPECTED GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE
LUNCHES TO KIDS WHOSE FAMILY COULDN’T, BUT GOVERNMENT IS
THERE TO TAKE CARE OF ISSUES THAT INDIVIDUALS CAN’T OR
WON’T HANDLE THEMSELVES. THIS IS ONE OF THOSE ISSUES
AND TO EXPECT A SCHOOL OR AN INDIVIDUAL TO HAVE TO RUN A GO
FUND ME IN ORDER TO MAKE SURE KIDS ARE ADEQUATELY FED, I
THINK LEADS DOWN A SLIPPERY SLOPE TOWARD, YOU KNOW, EVEN
LESS TAXATION. I KNOW THAT TAXATION IS SUCH A
DIRTY WORD BUT LIKE WE HAVE TO PRIORITIZE WHERE OUR ENERGY IS
PUT AND I WOULD MUCH RATHER FRANKLY PUT A COUPLE DOLLARS
THROUGH MY TAXES AND EVERYBODY SHOULDERING THAT THAN AN
INDIVIDUAL HAVING TO SAY, HERE IS 50 GRAND NON-RECURRING
FUND.>>PICK UP ON THAT. DOES THIS LET THE GOVERNMENT
OFF THE HOOK A LITTLE BIT?>>I THINK IT DOES AND THE
REASON THIS IS SUCH A FRAGILE SOLUTION AT THIS MOMENT IS
THERE IS GOING TO BE A CERTAIN PERCENTAGE OF THE POPULATION
THAT 10% OF PARENTS WHO CHOOSE NOT TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR KIDS
AND THERE WILL BE A HUE AND CRY THAT THESE PARENTS, IT IS
NOT THAT THEY CAN’T, THEY DON’T.
THAT REALLY STIFLES VOLUNTEERISM. IT JUST DOES. SO DOES THAT GO BACK TO I
THINK WE HAVE OTHER ISSUES AND I THINK THE SCHOOLS WILL NEED
TO DEAL WITH THIS ISSUE DIFFERENTLY AND NOT IN THE
CAFETERIA.>>GOOD POINT, TOO. IF YOU THINK ABOUT THE COST OF
FOOD AS IT IS DONE IN SCHOOLS, MAYBE THESE MEALS ARE TOO
EXPENSIVE GIVEN WHAT THEY ARE GETTING. WHO KNOWS. FINISH UP HERE. POLITICS WISE, NOT WHERE TO GO
FROM HERE, BUT WE ARE LEADING AND CALIFORNIA AND TEXAS ARE
LOOKING AT THIS. CURIOUS WHERE WE ARE A YEAR
FROM NOW. SINCE WE ARE LEADING FOLKS ARE
LOOKING AT US FIRST TO SEE IF THIS IMPLEMENTATION IS GOING
TO WORK. YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN. WE ARE ON THE HOOK NOW. THAT IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU
LEAD.>>I DO WONDER IF AT SOME
POINT, THE BURDEN WILL BE FLIPPED SO THAT RATHER THAN
TRYING TO SIGN UP CHILDREN MAYBE YOU ASSUME THEY ARE
ALREADY QUALIFIED BECAUSE IN APS 3/4 OF THE KIDS ALREADY
QUALIFY FOR FREE OR REDUCED LUNCH. SO IT MAKES SENSE YOU TRY TO
IDENTIFY THE 1/4 WHO AREN’T QUALIFIED RATHER THAN 3/4 WHO
ARE. I AM NOT A POLICY EXPERT. I DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER BUT I
CERTAINLY CAN UNDERSTAND WHY IT IS A MONUMENTAL JOB TO DEAL
WITH 3/4 OF THE STUDENTS TRYING TO GET THIS PAPERWORK
DONE.>>WHEN WE COME BACK TO THE
LINE, WE’LL TALK ABOUT A SCAM THAT COST THE CITY MORE THAN
400,000.

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