Is It Wrong To Use Free School Lunches?
Melinda writes: How do you feel about free school lunches? I ask this because with our low income we qualify for free lunches and breakfasts at my kids’ school. However, because I run a tight ship and try to be a good steward with the resources the Lord gives us, we actually can pay for our three children to eat the lunch that the school provides. I’m very torn on this issue. I almost feel like my kids eating the free school lunch would be like receiving welfare. On the other hand, free lunches would sure free some extra money that could be used in other areas of our budget. What do you suggest?
Tawra: The issue of free school lunches is one of those gray area questions that we’ve never quite been able to resolve.
We were in a similar situation last year where we qualified for reduced rate lunches. We took the reduced rate lunches. We did it because we knew my husband’s job was coming to an end soon and we weren’t sure if it was going to be sooner or later. :-) I went ahead and did it and it’s funny because we ended up not using the reduced rate lunches very often. My kids prefer bringing their lunch instead so they saw school lunches as the less desirable alternative. (The school didn’t care if they didn’t like institutional canned spinach ;-)
I think whether or not to use the school lunch program is something you are going to need to consider for your own situation. I would say pray about it and if you think God doesn’t want you to do it then don’t. There is nothing wrong with accepting free school lunches if you need them, particularly if you see it as a temporary thing. That’s why they offer that program. Even though you can pay for lunches, you still may have a reasonable need. If they spend their money wisely, most people who use the free lunch program “can” afford it. They just don’t. If you accept the free or reduced lunches so you can free space in the budget for unnecessary luxury items, that is probably not reasonable. If you are considering accepting it so that it’s a little easier to find the money in your budget to fix your car when it breaks down, that is probably reasonable. There is no reason to punish yourself for being smart about how you spend your money.
At our school, we could have made 50% more money and still qualified for the reduced lunches, so we didn’t feel like we were somehow taking advantage of the program.
We have qualified for WIC and programs like that for a long time, but we don’t feel good about taking it at this point in our lives. That’s just for us. It’s not right or wrong but that’s just how we handle it with our situation. I’m sorry I couldn’t give you a black and white answer! :-)