Misinformation sandwiches ruin a good appetite

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Say “cheese” all you want. When people react and overreact to mere bites of information from a full meal story, nobody ends up smiling.

We’re referring to the cheese sandwich article and photo perched atop Friday’s front page of The Press. Ultimately, a pretty decent public service was rendered in the form of important, factual information being imparted. But to get there, angst had a field day.

When a local mother expressed frustration over her son receiving lunch consisting of a mere cheese sandwich from Post Falls High School because his account was overdue $1.82 — the complaint was registered on social media, of course — more than 1,000 comments poured in. Most were sympathetic. Many were outraged. Some were measured and constructive. Almost all of them missed the point.

The point that went amiss was this: Somehow, in the telling of the story from student to mother to social media outlet, some pretty important information was left out. Yes, the lad received a cheese sandwich on a bun, but he also got applesauce, milk and whatever other side dishes a regular lunch purchaser received that day. In Post Falls School District, any high school student whose lunch account is in arrears or simply does not have money for lunch will still get fed, and fed well. It’s the district policy. How many parents knew that this failsafe for hungry kids also includes the promise of as much fruit and vegetables as the student wants?

Other districts have similar policies in place, and some of them were detailed in Friday’s newspaper story. Any parent with questions about her or his kids’ lunch programs should check out their school district’s website or call the specific school directly. But be prepared: Nobody in any of our local school districts is hellbent on malnourishing children or turning cold bureaucratic shoulders to hungry kids. In fact, through backpack programs and other means, most of our schools go out of their way to help connect kids with nutritious meals, including breakfast.

Social media might provide an excellent, instant vehicle to vent frustrations or share other feelings, but it is rarely the best place to seek out factual information. For that, going to the source will generally whet the appetite of anyone wanting to understand what’s really going on — and then react accordingly.

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