Should my son be allowed to charge up food at school to any amount he wants?

School lunches cost $2.50, breakfast costs $1.25. We have told Dominic that he is not allowed to buy breakfasts at school, because we have lots of cereal, toast, eggs, etc here at home that he can eat.

Now we find out that he’s been buying breakfasts at school (things like sweet rolls and muffins!CRAP!) and charging it to his account, so that his account goes into the negative. We send in money every week for his lunches, and it’s covering past days’ worth of breakfasts and leaving him still in the hole–yet the school keeps letting him get breakfasts! There is no way to not let him buy food.

Is this fair? I think it’s bullshit.

I think it’s pretty universal that once student leaves home for school, he/she is the school’s responsibility. The school might not be allowed to refuse a child wanting to buy breakfast.( “But I’m hungry!”)

When I worked in the school, we had several kids that would do this until the parent called and requested that junior only buy one lunch per day, or whatever. Usually the lunch worker is able to accommodate. Did you tell the school not to sell him breakfast? If they can’t accommodate this, then send him with exact change every day.

For every kid who is charging food against their parents’ wishes, I bet there are ten who either just forgot to bring their money or whose parents do not have any money that day or week (and a household that doesn’t normally qualify for free/reduced lunch can still have a lean day or week). I’d rather the system be set up to feed the hungry kids rather than avoid indulging the others.

If the school won’t work with you, perhaps you could close out his account entirely and send him to school with a sandwich? Alternatively, you could have him “work off” the balance in extra chores that go above and beyond his normal household responsibilities. To me, this is no different than a kid running up a phone bill, back when you could do that. It’s not the phone company’s fault for letting him make the call.

Sounds ridiculous to me. I always brought lunch from home when I was in elementary-junior high school, but then my parents’ thriftiness dovetailed with my own hatred of school food.

We also didn’t have such student accounts. Is there no way you can limit the account or close it? At least they aren’t charging you overdraft fees. :stuck_out_tongue:

It sounds to me like there’s a system in place where you can find out that he isn’t minding your direct instructions. I don’t see how this isn’t to your advantage. You’ve directly instructed him not to do something, and he clearly did it anyway, and you have the proof in his account. So give him hell!

pfft it’s only $6 a week.

Opal, my little bro is a sophomore, and he used to do that last year. The only real solution is to reprimand him and give him good quality granola bars to store in his locker. Little bro’s appetite just isn’t fierce at 7am, but come 830 or so he’s famished. I recommend Clif bars or Kashi GoLean bars. Larabars if he’s more into the fruit and nuts thing.

Frankly, I’d love it if my mom had made me breakfast in the mornings. If you don’t have anywhere to be early in the AM, why not offer to make him breakfast? (Sounds like that’s not the problem though - sounds like he’s not hungry till he’s been up for 60-90 minutes).

And he’s directly disobeying his parents.

It might be he wants to eat with his friends but that still is something to discuss with his parents not go behind their backs.

The bigger parenting issue here is that you told him not to buy breakfast and he still did. You can’t allow that sort of defiance. Especially when it’s combined with him drawing on an account you set up for a specific purpose.

Close the account. Give him enough to buy lunch each day and no more. Let him learn that their are consequences of being untrustworthy.

What do you normally do when he does something you’ve told him not to? Do that.

No internet? No TV? No dessert? No going out with friends? Pay off the debt with yard work, house work or washing dishes?

Our school doesn’t accept cash - just the pin system. So its either “let them buy what they want” or “close the account and have them pack lunch.”

We can, however, look every day and see what he bought for lunch. And then remove his video games or his outside time if it isn’t sensible.

From a teacher, two ideas:

  1. Send a letter to the cafeteria asking that he not be allowed to purchase breakfast items. I know our school’s cafeteria will honor even more specific requests (“My child cannot eat any dairy item except cheese” has been enforced), and I got the impression it was part of the federal school food program that such requests are honored, although I won’t guarantee that. Still, a signed letter would be very strong.
  2. I’m hearing you blaming the school, but not the kid. Of course there’s a way to not let him buy food: make it clear that if he does so, that money comes from somewhere else. Did he charge $10? Then next time y’all go for ice cream, he doesn’t get any, and next time y’all go out for dinner, he only gets water to drink, and next time y’all go to the movies, he stays home, and so forth until he’s paid your $10 back. Consider a service charge on that $10 as well :).

It’d be terrible policy not to let kids charge food: your son may have food at home, but I’ve had kids whose home breakfast consisted of (not making this up) Diet Dr. Pepper. Those kids can’t rely on home food or on parents involved enough to send them with money: they need to be able to eat at school. To clarify to the school that your kid isn’t in this category, look at suggestion 1 above.

When I was in high school, we didn’t have accounts like that. My folks would give me $x/week for snacks at school (or I could pocket that and bring food from home). If I wanted to buy more than that would buy, I could use my own allowance or babysitting money. My mom made my lunch for me, so this was only for breakfast/snacks/extras.

Regardless, it seems to me that he should pay for whatever the overages are - he gets a certain amount that you guys cover, and over that is on him.

Does your son get an allowance? If he doesn’t I’d start giving him $6 a week and then billing him for the breakfasts at the end of the week, I’m pretty sure he’ll quickly work out that he can save the money from muffins and eat at home or at least cut down on the number of days he eats crap at school. Or did I miss the point?

How old is the boy? Is he of good age to be educated about good nutritional choices?

I’m not sure why there isn’t at least some thought about renegotiating the agreement. At some point a person gets some input on when and what he eats for breakfast right?

Maybe cereal before he leaves for school doesn’t work well for him? I know I couldn’t make that work since I’m the opposite of hungry before I leave the house in the morning and really hungry the minute I get to work. Maybe he needs to be awake for a while before he can eat comfortably?

I agree with the poster who suggested a box of granola bars in the locker or something yummy to toss in the backpack on the way out the door. Or maybe he’d be willing to pack something for lunch and redirect that money to buying breakfast?

There just have to be options other than cold cereal or go hungry.

He’s 15, high school freshman.

That was and is my problem - at the time I left for school, I wasn’t hungry and would even get slightly nauseated at the thought of food. A class period or so into school, and I’d be famished. Maybe he really does need a portable breakfast rather than blowing money off his lunch account.

It’s not at all the school’s fault or problem. You need to find a way to get your kid to listen. He’s 15 for fuck sake which and should have known better years ago.