Under intense pressure from a growing student population and a shrinking budget, Hillsborough County Schools announced today that they are launching a district wide plan to lower and possibly eliminate school lunch debt.
Many citizens of Hillsborough county have expressed concerns about this affecting their students lunch benefits. I sat down with Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent, Jeff Eakins, to get the details.
“Mr. Eakins, there has been a great deal of inquiry from parents about how school lunch debt will be eliminated. Are you planning on expanding upon the free and reduced lunch program?” I asked.
Mr. Eakins responded quickly, “Actually we are doing quite the opposite, we plan on cutting all free and reduced lunch for the 2020-2021 school year.”
“Excuse me?!!” I said, spitting out my caramel iced coffee. “According to last year’s statistics over 57% of Hillsborough County Schools students are on free and reduced lunch. You’re just planning to take that away?!” I know I shouldn’t have yelled but I was furious to think my son’s lunch money would have to come out of my fancy coffee budget.
Mr. Eakins responded almost gleefully, “We feel it’s time for parents and even students to learn financial responsibility.”
“How do you intend to enforce this no free lunch policy? Don’t you think kids might just go and grab the food as they’ve been able to do in previous years? I mean it’s not like the lunch ladies are going to be eager to turn them down.” I replied.
“That’s why we’re introducing Lunchroom bouncers!” Mr. Eakins stated excitedly. “If you don’t have your lunch money you can GTFO”
“So you’re going to hire people to effectively keep poor kids hungry?” I questioned him furiously. “Where does that money come from” I continued. “Wouldn’t it just be cheaper to not hire people and continue providing lunches for needy students?
“Oh we aren’t paying a dime for the bouncers. We’ve signed a contract with Orient Road Jail. You see, some of their most violent offenders need to work as part of their rehabilitation. And we need big mean bouncers. Honestly it’s a no-brainer.” Mr. Eakins said very casually, as if that wasn’t the craziest fucking thing I’d ever heard.
“When you say violent offenders, what kind of offenses are you talking about?” I asked.
“Well I’m not really at liberty to say, but I will tell you that if they don’t have at least two tear drop tattoos, we’re not interested.” He said.
I sat there in disbelief. Mr. Eakins then said, “I know that parents are going have concerns, but rest assured the program works. I’d like you to meet one of our success stories from the pilot we did at one of our high schools last year.”
In walked the scrawniest teen I think I’ve ever seen.
“This is Carlos Tejeda” Mr. Eakins proudly introduced him.
“Hi Carlos, it is a pleasure to meet you.” I said. “Can you tell me how having a bouncer in your school cafeteria has helped you? I mean surely getting bounced was hard on you.”
Carlos replied thoughtfully, “Yeah but you learn things. Like one day I was really hungry and I bribed one of the bouncers for a free lunch. That experience prepared me for real life. I work at Olive Garden now, but Bingham High School was where I tossed my first salad”
“Jesus Fucking Christ” I replied. “Can you get me a discount sometime? I love their bread sticks.”