Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lamb 1's economics lesson

Once a week in the summer I take the Lambs to a local park over the lunch hour. They play on the playground, visit the Bookmobile from our library, and get a free school lunch. The free lunches are offered all week days in the summer. We only go on Bookmobile day. We only go once a week for several reasons. We're too busy in the summer to go more often, I can only handle them having junk food- that much gluten and dairy once a week, and we don't NEED to get the free lunch as some people do.

I could write several blog posts with my thoughts about this free program. I figure I can tolerate it once a week because the Lambs do love the novelty of school lunch and eating it at the park. If nothing else this is cultural literacy for my homeschooled Lambs to eat a school lunch. This was the first time they had tacquitos and pizza pockets. They now have the main course menu memorized but they are surprised by which fruits, veggies, and dessert is included.

While they were eating their lunch last time, the Lambs had all kinds of questions about school lunches.  Some of their questions were about how the lunch could be free and who paid for the lunches. I explained that it was offered because our city wanted each child to be offered at least one hot meal a day, even if their parents couldn't afford it. I explained that during the school year the students got a hot meal at school and the food truck drove to the park in the summer to give out hot meals. I explained that all lunches were free in the summer for children and one reason was so they didn't have to figure out who could afford a lunch and who couldn't.

This turned into a conversation about public schools offer full price, reduced, and free lunches to students based on their parent income. The Lambs wanted to know if I ate at school when I was a child and since my dad was a pastor they wondered if I got reduced or free lunch. I explained that in elementary school I usually brought my lunch from home and in middle school I went to a Lutheran school and ate there. I explained that I had no idea if the Lutheran school even offered free lunches back then, but I knew that my parents paid full price for lunches. I didn't go into reasons for my parents paying full price with the Lambs. I didn't go into this in detail with the Lambs. I know that some Lutheran schools do participate in the lunch program so would give free/reduced lunches and some don't participate in the lunch program. When I taught at the Lutheran school I just gave out milk and made sure the students ate their lunch, I have no idea who paid what.

At this point in the conversation Lamb 1 got very upset. He said it wasn't right that there were free lunches at the public school and not at the Lutheran school. His reasoning was that Christians should provide for everyone. It would make more sense to him if it was the opposite, that lunch was free for everyone at the Lutheran school and everyone paid at the public school. He didn't think it was the public school's responsibility to feed students, but he thought Christians should. Plus he thought the Lutheran schools should have enough money to feed their students based on the offerings given on Sunday mornings. He thought Lutheran schools should take care of their students because they were so happy they were going to their school so they could learn about Jesus.

I spent a little more time explaining this with Lamb 1, but I didn't go in to too many details as he was ready to go play on the playground at this point. In a perfect world Lamb 1 would be right. If Christians were providing enough food for the hungry then our schools and the government would not have to offer free lunches to students. In a perfect world Lutheran schools wouldn't have financial problems and would have no limit to helping people all over the world.

I expect that this conversation will be continued each time we go to the park for our "free" lunch now. I may not pay money for these free lunches for the Lambs, but I pay for it by answering their questions. Who would have thought a free lunch could have so many lessons?

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