Thursday, April 10, 2014

No Lunch is Ever Free

For Spring quarter at my college one of my classes is Creative Writing. One of our free write activities one day was to write about food, but school lunches in particular. So I wrote about an embarrassing time in middle school. Then I realized I had more food stories to tell, so those will come later in this blog. Here is my first one:

I remember hearing in my Economics class senior year of high school that there was "no such thing as a free lunch". It was meant to explain that a lot of things had to go through production to make just one meal and production cost money.

Well, that's how I view my lunch experience growing up. For public school each year your parents fill out a sheet for your lunch to see how much it'll cost you. It was all based on your parent's income. So from first grade to seventh, I had free lunch.

Then one day in seventh grade, or the beginning of eighth (I don't remember), I went through the lunch line like normal and expected my lunch to be free. The lady in charge of the line asked if I had 40 cents. I got a very panicky deer-in-the-headlights look and finally said that I didn't have any. Apparently my family's income changed just enough so that I needed to start paying for lunch everyday. But since I was not informed ahead of time, the lady took my lunch away! In front of the whole line and other portions of the cafeteria!

My replacement was a pack of crackers that came with fake spreadable cheese and a plastic red stick to spread that fake cheese. That is a snack. Not lunch. I barely made it to the table before I started crying. After that embarrassing day I continued to pay for lunch everyday. When I got to my high school I still had to pay but it had a better selection of food so it was worth it.

And because I lived right across the street from my high school and we had open campus, I was able to go home every once in awhile to eat there.

I will never forget that day in middle school, mostly because it was mortifying, but also because I learned that even my free costing lunch wasn't free of cost.

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