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?