For hungry kids, teachers chip in for takeout

school lunch trays. image from back_garage's photostream at flickr.com/creativecommonsWe all know how common it is for teachers to dip into their own bank accounts to buy classroom supplies. How about buying takeout for kids when the school lunch isn’t served?

A group of Tilden Elementary School teachers wrote to tell me about a memo they received this morning (dated yesterday) from their principal, informing them that “as of today,” lunch would not be served to the preschoolers.

It turns out that the newly enforced lunch policy, which came from the district (via state guidelines), is only supposed to apply to preschool children whose program lasts less than two hours. But some of the children in Tilden’s Pre-K program are there for five hours, so today — amid the confusion and apparent lack of notice — the teachers chipped in for a pizza.

Here’s the memo:

To: Pre-K Teachers
From: Rachelle Sallee’
Date: May 6, 2010
Re: Pre-K Teacher

This is to inform you that Pre-K classes will not be served lunch as of today. More information about this matter will be given to you at a later time.

Thank you.

The teachers were concerned, especially since some of the children’s families had paid for their lunches through the end of the year and others qualify for a free lunch. (They will be reimbursed, according to district spokesman Troy Flint.) They wrote:

To top it off, after releasing this memo that our young students wouldn’t get to eat, a group of district administrators meeting on Tilden’s campus had their catered lunch delivered. There seems to be some obvious discrepancies in logic here. The teachers did not let our students go hungry and banded together to order pizza (with our own money) but this situation will not be solved with take-out.

The children in the five-hour program will have lunch — but probably no pizza — on Monday. The district’s food services director plans to inform preschool parents about the change and the reasons behind it then, Flint said.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Turanga_teach

    Hi, Oakland Parent/Teacher!

    My name’s Sonia, and I’m speaking my piece with direct experience at the school site and extensive past interactions with all parties involved. What’s your name and what’s your motivation?

  • Oakland Teacher

    It is reasonable to assume that Katy was contacted by any of the following people: teacher, parent, student family member, school staff person, or even the food service worker. Any of those people could be upset by the situation.

    Conversely, posting #49 and 50 could only be written by any of the following people: principal, principal’s family, principal’s friends. Who else would be so outraged by the discussion?


  • Tilden Parent

    I just have one question. The Tilden community has received an apology for Troy Flint Director of Public Relations. Jennifer La Barre from Nutrition Services. RACHELLE WHERE IS YOURS…

  • Another Tilden parent

    This incident is best brought into perspective when one considers that it was just the latest in an extensive series of blunders, oversight, mishaps and disregard for the children, parents and teachers from our principal.

  • Ted

    In the face of such controversy and dissention, it is surprising that the principal is still there. In the best interest of the children, Dr. Smith should step in and rectify this situation. Allowing the principal to remain is irresponsible and detrimental to the children and the staff.

  • http://www.ousd.k12.ca.us Troy Flint

    A brief note in response to the poster who inquired about the status of lunch applications for Tilden students attending school for five hours daily:

    Nutrition Services reports that, to date, they have processed 35 meal applications for the 49 Tilden Pre-K students on record. An additional five applications were received but remain unprocessed as they were incomplete upon submission. Notification was sent in October regarding these applications, but we have been unable to resolve the matter. The issue should have been settled by now, but due to a number of obstacles, including staff turnover, we are still working to finalize the incomplete applications.

    Additionally, it should be noted that while there may be more Pre-K students enrolled at Tilden than the 49 received applications would indicate, because Pre-K students are not enrolled in the District’s student database, Nutrition Services does not have direct access to their information, a fact which complicates processing.

    To alleviate this, Nutrition Services has requested that Tilden provide it with a spreadsheet of all students and that the list be updated as needed. The list is then downloaded into the meal application software allowing Nutrition Services to process the meal applications. Unfortunately, this process does not always occur on a consistent basis, but Nutrition Services elected to continue to provide meals to Pre-K students for the reasons that have been discussed at length by the posters on this blog.

    Please know that Nutrition Services is working on ways to streamline the information gathering process in a way that improves efficiency and relieves the burden on the site.

    In the meantime, if there are questions about specific students, parents should contact Nutrition Services at 510.879.8345 for assistance.



  • Enraged Parent!

    You people who are defaming the good name and reputation of the principal should be ashamed of yourselves!!!!! After all of the wonderful and good activities and events she has had this year so that the children at Tilden could be enriched, after she has fought so hard all year for our children’s rights you are taking an incident that NONE OF YOU know the story behind and made it into a a story for fake journalism. If I were her I would sue everyone INCLUDING the district for defamation of character!!!!!!!!!!

  • requesting a response

    Dr. Mr. Flint,

    We are pleased that you have resolved this issue. Thank you for taking the time to ensure that our 3-5 year olds will be fed for the rest of the school year.
    However, the issue of the school’s principal sitting down to a catered lunch with her supervisor, Sharon Casanares, while knowing that the 3 to 5 year olds in her care are without lunch, has not been addressed.
    Is this okay with you Mr. Flint? Is this okay with Tony Smith and Sharon Casanares? Even more outrageous, Sharon Casaners asserts that Ms. Sallee never told her the children didn’t have food? Our confidence is lost in our principal and our disappointment in OUSD is mounting daily. Please respond and address Tilden parents and teachers.

  • Thomas

    Mr. Smith/Flint

    I think the blogger from #46 was correct. Look at #58- they are trying to draw your cabinet staff in (#58).

    Chris might be a lwayer for them, who knows?

    Mr. Weinberg, were you a teacher or a cabinet member when you were restricted- I am wondering if there is a difference?