Scraps for the Underlings

An Open Letter to District of Columbia Parents with Children in Public Schools

Dear Parents,

When are you guys going to stand up and demand a better life for your children? Do you actually want to hold any of your elected leaders accountable for, oh, anything? Because that’s the first step in no longer making a better life not only for your kids, but for yourselves.

Take the scallion incident. Kids in the SE part of the city (the city’s poorest) were served raw green onions as part of the federal government’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program that cost us $1.2 million. Now the idea of giving kids a free fruit or vegetable is a noble one. I’m not going to get into a debate on spending issues since I suspect you and I would disagree on many of those topics. But, where I hope we can agree is on the fact that if we’re taking $1.2 million from taxpayers, that it should be spent on fruits and vegetables that children (and adults, for that matter) will actually eat instead of raw onions that will be thrown in the garbage.

There should be accountability here. Instead, the food service provider is dodging questions to both its leadership and the dietician on staff. I’m sorry, but there should be no excuse. If that dietician is charged with making sure your kids eat healthy food provided by the school, the company should have an open door policy to his or her office. These are your children, and the adults who carry the responsibility of caring for them during the day should not be allowed to hide from the public.

The school district is covering for the food service provider. They say that they are confident it was a one-time mistake and there was no big deal. If you care about your children, you need to tell them that making excuses isn’t good enough – and possibly research any political or friendly ties between the company and the District. If this happened in my poor school district in rural Oklahoma, parents would be at school board meetings demanding some kind of action. It might be as extreme as cutting the contract if there were other issues in the past. It also might be simply demanding some sort of restitution from the food service provider. According to the article, school staff had to scrounge up apples from their other supplies to provide the snack. That costs money for the apples and money for the staff time to do the job the contractor did not do. Force your school leaders to demand concessions, a statement, an open door policy when it comes to the contractor’s staff who make diet decisions for the school menus, and a plan of action to make sure these kinds of mistakes don’t happen again.

I’ll never understand the attitude that District residents seem to take with their leaders – that they will allow them to walk all over the citizens and treat them like crap. Serving raw scallions as a snack would not be tolerated in any of the wealthier schools & surrounding districts. Why do you allow your leaders to treat you and your children like this and then let them slide?

Just a few helpful suggestions from someone who thinks your kids deserve better.


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