Free lunch

Growing up, my Nana used to get the government cheese. I remember standing in line alongside her at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. She would get that big ole block of free cheese and we would be on our way.

I hated that cheese. Hated it.

It had a very distinct taste. Like plastic, fake cheese. I could taste government cheese in a second, so Nana had to be sly with it. She would slip it in the beans, the enchiladas…and I’d always turn my nose up at it because I knew this was that nasty free church cheese she insisted on getting.

Fast forward to now. It’s summertime and I have six hungry kids. Work has been slow. Money is scarce. I’m wearing my poverty like a noose around my neck and its getting tighter and tighter. My neighbor started to take her two sons to the local park where they were offering free lunch to kids aged two to eighteen and they invited a couple of my boys to come along. Afterwards, they would rave about the delicious meal they got.

Free! Can you believe that, mom? 
Will you take us tomorrow? 
Can we go again? 

So everyday around 11:30 am, my kids start to circle me like a shark after some chum.

One afternoon, I stood and chatted with my neighbor as our children got in line for their lunch. She said that even though we might not “need it”, we should take advantage of the programs our city offers or else the program could be cut and the people who really benefit from it would be at a loss. I agreed. But do you want to know the sad part? Its not the raggedy, ghetto, (insert whatever adjective you want here) poor people who “need” this free lunch. As I am sitting in my van waiting for the chil’rens, I study all of the nice, newish SUVS and vans driving up with their children.

Everyone is hurting. Not too many people are turning their nose up at free lunch. It makes me sad that our economy has so many of us down. But at the same time, its like another layer of pride that I tightly cling to is being pulled and more of the real me is showing.

Would you take your kids for free lunch?

Free lunch

Superhero family!

Free lunch

Beating them off with sticks

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There are 9 comments

  1. Moroodliin

    it is like using coupons at supermarket. So why not. In here mongolia, just for 2011, everybody get 18 dollars for a month from government. So husband, 2 kids and i get 80k mongolian tugrugs each month till December. It is not much money, but huge relief after run out all money between pay checks. If in mongolia we get free lunch, i’d go there. 🙂

  2. francine

    i don’t have kids, but if i did i’d definitely take them to free lunch. if they offered it, i’d take myself to free lunch! (i’m a broke grad school student…)

  3. Anonymous

    I definitely would if I could. The park across the street from my house offers free lunches during the summer, but since I work, I am not able to take my youngest son. My mother-in-law would always take my 2 older boys to get their free lunch back in the day.

    Sylvia T.

  4. Molly

    And here come stick in the mud…(the You here is not YOU pearmama, but a Universal YOU)

    I probably would not. I think that if you have the money for a newish SUV, then you are not hurting enough to be standing in the free food line.

    You just might need a class in budgeting. Or living within your means. I think the only people who need to be in that line are the same people who get discounted or free school lunch.

  5. Rhi

    sho’nuff. If i had a “newish” SUV, the truth is i probably would be STUCK with it. big families HAVE to have big cars with the crazy seatbelt laws. most folks credit is shot now, so trading in the new SUV for an old beat up stationwagon just isn’t an option. if it were are more metro area and public transportation was an option – i venture to guess that lots of those SUV driving folks would take the train and keep that $500-$800 + gas costs in their pockets. just a thought.

  6. Anonymous

    I work at a summer camp near a park that does this, and I would say 4/5 of the kids take advantage of the free lunch. Some of these kids would have really inadequate lunches packed for them simply because their families don’t have the money to pack a well balanced meal, so I’m really glad the option is there. Well fed kids are happy kids! Sure, some of the kids families don’t need the free lunch option, but the kids who do need it don’t feel singled out for their families not having money.

  7. Janna

    Hell yea I would. Things are not as bad here in Australia, but I worry it will get that way. I look for free events or giveaways. When I pay my council rates I will go collect my two free natives and mulch for my garden!!

    If there was a free lunch I would take it. You might find you are helping the economy in a way. The money you save for those lunches you can put back into the economy somewhere. Also, you pay your taxes ( I assume) so you may as well get something back.

    Don’t be ashamed, it is there for the taking! Your kids enjoy it, and you are saving money! Win/Win

  8. xenia

    when i was about 11, my folks had us in a day camp and we’d get the free lunch with the rest of the day campers – i thought it was yummy and i didn’t see anything wrong with it then or now. in fact, i always see signs around several cities here in orange county and i think about going – but we haven’t yet. i think if people are hungry, we should feed ’em!!!

  9. Anonymous

    While I would tell anyone who asked to go and take what was offered I wouldn’t go myself. Not because I’m ashamed or think that I’m better than that. It’s more that there is always someone who has it worse than I do and I would feel that I was taking something that someone needed more than I do.

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