Eatin Good In The Neighborhood (School)
As the parent of the 13-year old TeenWonk, I'm always wondering how (and what) she is eating at school. Each week, we give her enough money to buy her lunch. For some time, I've suspected that she does what many of her classmates do with their lunch money. Rather than buying a nutritional school lunch, they spend the cash on junk food at our school store.
Now it appears that there may be a solution on the horizon:
Three school districts in the Atlanta area last week became the first in the country to offer the parental-monitoring option of an electronic lunch payment system called Mealpay.com, created by Horizon Software International of Loganville, Georgia.Could this be called spying on the kids? Sure, some might consider this as "spying." But as a California classroom teacher, I see kids doing things every day that I know their parents would not want them doing. They would simply be shocked if they knew.
For two years, the payment system, used by 1,000 school districts in 21 states, has allowed parents to electronically prepay for student lunches. Students type in their identification number before the cafeteria cashier rings up each day's lunch bill. The bill then is deducted from the student's account.
The system was initially designed as a convenient way to make sure children bought lunch without worrying that lunch money would get lost, spent on other things or stolen.
Under the system, parents can see all of a student's lunch purchases. Even those paid in nickels and dimes -- instead of the prepaid lunch account -- are recorded in the system, said Tina Bennett, program director.
"A parent could give a child $20 and within two days that money's gone. This allows them to see if they bought chips," Bennett said. "What we're really hoping is to get parents' involvement, to let them know what's happening."
As parents, we would choose to be informed of what our daughter is buying at school with lunch money that we had given her.
And her privacy? We respect that here in our home.
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