Thursday, November 06, 2008

Another odd thing

There are all these random odd things about my kids' school that probably aren't odd, I just don't understand them.  My latest is school lunches. Buying lunch was never an option in my 12 years of Catholic schooling. The school I went to for the first 8 years didn't have a lunch room let alone a cafeteria. You brought your lunch and you ate at your desk.  The high school had a lunch room and a cafeteria that served breakfast to people who qualified for free breakfast, but no lunch. The school was in the middle of town though and you were free to leave and go to the deli or McDonalds. (I'd like to see that happen today) So I have zero experience with cafeterias.

Lunch is $1.70. Havoc buys lunch on random days if they are serving something he likes  - tacos, chicken sandwiches or hot dogs usually. I can't just hand him $2 to stick in his pocket. I understand that. Trusting a bunch of 5 year olds not to lose their lunch money or their change would be foolish.

I have to put the money in a baggie or envelope, write his name, his teachers name and 'lunch money' on it, plus the amount. Ok, I assume this is in case the baggie falls out of his backpack. What I don't understand is why I can't get the baggie or envelope back. We have a huge change jar and don't ever have much cash on us. Havoc takes $1.70 exactly in loose change every time. So he never gets change back. Maybe if I gave him $1.75 he'd get the bag back with a nickel in it?

It's really a matter of waste management to me. I've sent in about 20 baggies since school started. 20 baggies with Havoc's name, the teacher's name and lunch money on it. What are they doing with them? Do they throw them out? Why can't they hand him back the empty bag? Though honestly I am not entirely sure he gives them the money himself. Possibly the teacher collects the baggies and hands them in when the class goes to lunch.  But still, it has his name on it. How hard is it to hand them back?

I've been concerned about the baggie waste for awhile now. Are all these kids bags & envelopes ending up in the trash? Is my kid the only with a baggie? Why isn't there some way for me to send in $20 and have 18 lunches prepaid and save 18 wasted baggies? It seems I can only prepay if he is going to buy lunch every single day, not at random, like he does. The next county over uses prepaid cards the kids swipe. Parents can go online and add money to it with a visa. So this morning, just to see what happened, DH wrote "Please return this bag" on the baggie.

Here the odd thing. We got a baggie back. It was Havoc's baggie. But it WASN'T the one with "Please return this bag" written on it, it was a previous one. What, are they saving them up? Are their piles of baggies sitting around with kids names on them? Are they going to send them home at Xmas break to be used next year?

I want to send a note into the teacher asking about it, but I don't want to be 'that odd woman with the baggie hang up' either. I am going to have to call the school. There has got to be a way to pay ahead on the lunches eaten at random & that info just never reached me or I missed it.


Kristen said...

LOL! This is right up there with missing socks and the Bermuda Triangle. Maybe get him his own tiny change purse and they wont be so quick to toss (hide, consume, trade...) the baggies. You could even run a chain or one of those retractable thingys to his belt (hahaha)

Monique said...

Hmmm... definitely sounds like a lot of waste. You should at least be able to prepay a card that they punch. It definitely is a lot of waste sending money in an envelope or baggy each and every time. Good luck, perhaps bringing it up with the school board as a means to limit waste would work to help change the system.

Kresta said...

That's strange and funny all at the same time. The elem. school I taught at let everyone (teachers included) prepay, then gave us all lunch numbers to memorize. We just punched in our numbers or told the cashier lady and the lunch $$ would be taken off our balance. I love the idea of prepaid cards too.

2TooManyHats said...

I'm hearing the theme to the Twilight Zone and Rod Serling telling me, "You are now entering the baggy" - eek!

MelissaL88 said...

I agree that it seems strange that they don't return the baggies, since they make you write the kids name on it. It is also unusual (or maybe not) that the school doesn't have some sort of prepayment plan. Our elem. school does the prepayment plan and the kids have to memorize their "code". My only gripe with ours is that if we want to pay online with a credit card, we have to pay a "service charge". What??? So dh & I have to keep paper checks in the house so we can send one to school every so often - one for each of the boys because we can't possibly pay for both with one check.

Helene said...

You make such a good point...about the waste of those baggies. In the old preschool my kids went to, I used to have to send lunch and I'd always put in plastic spoons, expecting that the spoons would come home in the lunchboxes but the teachers were throwing them away!! Such a waste! I finally spoke with them about it and they started sending the spoons back home again. I mean, I can wash them and use them again over and over...I didn't understand their point of throwing them away!

I don't think it would be a problem for you to mention it...esp with this economy. When you consider how much a package of ziploc baggies are, you could be saving a lot of money if they'd send them back home with!!

Jodith said...

When I was a kid, and this was 40 years ago, they used punch cards. You paid for 5 lunches at a time, and they lunch lady punched the card as you went through. When the card was empty, you bought another one.

If we could handle that 20 years ago, how come they can't do it now?

Charming Lamb said...

I'm not getting why they would want children to have to keep up with money. What happens if a child forgets to bring money to school?

It makes much more sense to have a punch card and be done with it all. Our school puts it on a tab and we pay the bill at the end of the month.

I'm all about simplicity. Now if they would just have online bill paying! LOL

Jenni Jiggety said...

I bet they just throw them away!

This might sound nuts but could you make him a little fabric envelope wallet type thing that they would be more inclined to send home?

ptooie said...

I'm becoming concerned for when my girls start school in a couple years. Sounds like there's lots of stuff to confuse me!
20 years ago when I was in elem. school, I don't remember having to pay or anything. Middle and high school I had to carry the cash if I wanted to eat, but I don't think so for the earlier years. hmmm... We were a moderately rich district and foodstuffs were cheaper then, but now I'm curious. I may have to ask my mother this week!

Susanna said...

Don't try to figure out schools, they drive me nuts.

They are all under funded and the teachers are under huge pressure.

BTW -- our school lunches are double the price here! At $1.70 yours is a bargain. Does he eat it?

Eve said...

LOL It's a Scooby Doo mystery as my kids like to say! LOL

Creative Junkie said...

LOL - you'll be known as the bag lady!

We just deposit money in our child's account and whenever they buy, it's deducted from their account. So much easier.

If I had to rely on actually giving them cash? They'd starve. I never have cash on me. I'm known to charge $0.79 worth of tic tacs.

Doré said...

This does seem a little strange... I can't believe they actually had another one of his baggies! Definitely makes you wonder what they are doing with them. I hope for our sake you get to the bottom of it... and don't forget ot keep up informed!

MyEbella said...

LOL what a chuckle this morning! My son goes to catholic private school w/ NO lunch service...but they are served milk. So he has a milk card, pre-paid and the teacher punches it when he uses it.
I would put $2 in and see what happens or flat out ask them what they are doing...what a simple waste! I wonder what else they are not recycling or just throwing away!

Heather (How to be a Woman..?) said...

Odd indeed! Maybe they're saving them with the intention of returning them but never got around to it?

It would be nice if they had a non-cash solution for the kids' lunches. At the HS here, kids sign up for the program, then just give their names. I can see how that might go wrong though, if somebody else gives your kids' name. Hmm..

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frogpondsrock said...

It would bother me as well..