Each day, sometimes twice a day, children line up at the school cafeteria. They eagerly chat about which meal they are going to order; the burger, french toast, or fruit salad all sound good! Once they get to the cashier, the mood quickly changes. It becomes embarrassment and horror as they are labeled with debt when the register flashed with a negative balance. To add to this, the meal that excites them is taken away. It is replaced with a simple sandwich made from two pieces of white bread and a slice of American cheese. This bullying happens more often than not, and is a little known issue in the United States. Without a doubt this bullying due to lack of funding is unacceptable, and breaks our hearts at Unified Caring Association (UCA). We would like to raise awareness about this form of bullying.
What is school lunch debt shaming?
“Lunch Shaming” refers to identifying and placing a stigma on a student who does not have money to buy a school meal. This is often referring to children in K-12th grade, who get their breakfast or lunch at school. “While the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) narrowly applies this overt identification to students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch, in practice legal lunch shaming occurs against students whose family income exceeds free or reduced lunch eligibility thresholds.” (American Bar Association) Lunch debt shaming’s purpose is to embarrass a student and subsequently their parent(s) so that the debt is paid quickly, making it so that the school has less financial burden. Both students who do not qualify for free school meals through the National School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program but qualify for reduced-price school meals $0.30/day (breakfast) and $0.40/day (lunch) or those that do not qualify for subsidised meal programs can accrue lunch debt.
It comes in many forms…
Think about the memes where people take pictures of their pets with signs shaming them for what they did wong, such as chewing up all the toilet paper rolls in the bathroom. Or, like this one below:
Now apply this tactic to an elementary school kid. Their hand now has a stamp stating “Not Enough Money.” Less funny? We would agree.
Other stories that can be found in the news include throwing the child’s meal away after it had been served if they cannot pay. It appears that some schools even offer different meals to the children who have school lunch debt, such as PBJ’s instead of the hot meal. Or, there have been reports of schools barring the kids with lunch debt from participating in afterschool activities. Or threatening the kids with other actions such as placing them in foster care. These unacceptable actions vary because there is no set baselines for unpaid meal fees in the meal programs’ policies for the school districts by The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
How can we solve it?
There are so many ways that we can help solve the issue of school lunch debt. Jeffery Lew gives a great summary on how we can be more proactive in the short and long term in eliminating lunch debt shaming. Lew suggests being active in raising funds through crowdfunding, such as Go Fund Me, to help those in immediate need. Other ways are by the schools notifying the parents of the student meal accounts. This can be done by paper notifications sent home with the kids, or by email. Some schools can even set up automatic notifications to the parents’ mobile devices.
Watch the full TedTalk!
Other things we can do. We can share information about meal programs for kids at school, such as National School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program. Unified Caring Association has also worked with Great Northern Services (GNS) who has a summer lunch program to help feed students while school is not in session.
Overall, Lew sums it up when he comments how kids and debt should not be in the same sentence. And bullying children to get a message to the parents is unacceptable. With a supportive, inclusive, and caring community we can help remove lunch shaming debt from schools, we can further focus on growing caring children.
Would you like to know more about Unified Caring Association? Check out our blogs on Mobile Apps for Caring Children, Caring Communities to Help Stop Cyberbullying, and One Tree Planted T.R.E.E.S. Program for Kids! Would you like to keep up with UCA activities? Check us out on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter for updates throughout the week!
Unified Caring Association (UCA) upholds the philosophy that education is one of the important ways to help bring more caring into the world. To see this happen we hold scholarship contests throughout the year. We are excited to say that we have one currently open and have so much excitement as the essay applications are arriving in our mail. We have been seeing requests from our caring community asking us to tell you more about our scholarships.
CLICK HERE for information about our current fall 2019 scholarship for high school juniors/seniors.
If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change?
US High School Juniors and Seniors
We require an original essay answering the prompt “If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change?” Each submission must clearly explain why they feel this change would make a caring impact in the world. Essays must be at least 500 words.
Fall Scholarship Awards:
The top 10 winners will receive a scholarship award of $350.00
The next 10 best caring essays will receive scholarship awards of $100.
Winners Announced: 12/13/19
Essays arrive by the day and we are bursting with joy to read each fall scholarship. Often we have a buzz of excitement in the office with each one! Thank you to all of the teenagers who enter their essays. We are celebrating each of you and will be hard-pressed to pick out the winners! Best of luck!… and we are looking forward to reading your essays.
Want to read more about UCA scholarship winners and get an extra dose of positivity on you news feeds? Read our other caring scholarship blogs, scholarship blogs on gratitude, and or follow us on social media: Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. We are looking forward to sharing more with you!
“Our goal at Hypergiant Industries is to use the world’s best technologies to solve the world’s biggest problems,” said Hypergiant CEO and founder, Ben Lamm.
We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) love to hear good news that helps the world become a more caring place to live. When we find some caring news, we are eager to share it with our caring community. There is a new bioreactor that scrubs more carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air than most trees!
The Eos Bioreactor
This bioreactor is from an innovative team at Hypergiant Industries, and its name is the Eos Bioreactor. The Eos Bioreactor uses artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize the growth and production of algae and to capture carbon. It is unique to use algae, because it is 400x better at removing carbon particulates than trees. The reactor in addition “…can process about two tons of oxygen in a year, which is about the same as an acre of trees.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/algae-bioreactor-captures-as-much-carbon-as-acre-of-trees/?fbclid=IwAR3krS_3A18hn01RhdNeroYw-T9QOclWbQhQzx4ammY4RJ_KJKkLOjMQ-DY) The Eos Bioreactor is compact and measures to be 3×3 feet wide. In comparison to similar bioreactor prototypes, it only takes up a small amount of space. This is a breakthrough piece of technology for carbon capture. Our hearts are singing even louder because Hypergiant plans to release the blueprints online later this year! The goal is to empower individuals in the online maker community to create their own versions. Hopefully these will be smaller and modular for use in residential units.
This design was possible thanks to recent machine intelligence breakthroughs. The machine intelligence helped the designers by improving the efficiency of their design for the bioreactor’s brain — the autonomous health monitoring that allows it to be aware of and relate to its surroundings. “By constantly monitoring and managing the amount and type of light, available CO2, temperature, PH, biodensity, harvest cycles and more, the reactor can create the perfect environment to maximize carbon sequestration.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/algae-bioreactor-captures-as-much-carbon-as-acre-of-trees/?fbclid=IwAR3krS_3A18hn01RhdNeroYw-T9QOclWbQhQzx4ammY4RJ_KJKkLOjMQ-DY)
What is Algae?
Algae is a single celled organism that is very efficient at multiplying quickly. (I am sure some of us who own ponds or pools know this all too well.) It does this through the absorption of light and CO2. To top it off algae can grow almost anywhere and can survive with little nutrients. In this case, the algae in the bioreactor eats “…CO2, it also produces biomass, which can then be harvested and processed to create fuel, oils, nutrient-rich high-protein food sources, fertilizers, plastics, cosmetics, and more.”
Eco Friendly and Beyond…
This is a new piece of technology that is eco friendly and sustainable. Can we add more to the excitement? Yes we can! To add more ribbons to this bioreactor Hypergiant Industries will be focusing on using “…recycled ocean plastics to create the devices and encourages the community to do so as well.” (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/algae-bioreactor-captures-as-much-carbon-as-acre-of-trees/?fbclid=IwAR3krS_3A18hn01RhdNeroYw-T9QOclWbQhQzx4ammY4RJ_KJKkLOjMQ-DY) Cleaning up our planet is a big part of being a caring community. The excess carbon in the earth’s atmosphere is one of the largest reasons for the increasing number of massive catastrophes for our planet. Hypergiant industries is looking into the Eos Bioreactor in space crafts and colonization. “I want humanity to colonize space because I want to explore the cosmos to better understand our place within it—I don’t want us to colonize space because we are running away from our home planet. This device is one of our first efforts focused on fixing the planet we are on.” (Hypergiant CEO and founder, Ben Lamm) We cannot wait for more details to be announced next year!
Would you like to read more blogs form Unified Caring Association? We have more blogs like ‘R’ is for Reforestation, Investing in Green Spaces, and One Tree Planted. Or how about a dose of caring and cheer in your day? Follow us on Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram!
So much of today’s conversations are around the pursuit of happiness. It seems to be intangible but important to most of us. If we take a step back and ask ourselves one root question we can begin a journey filled with happiness. What is one thing we can do to increase our happiness that also helps us be more healthy? The answer: Giving with care. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) love to share research, ideas and inspiration on how we can harness giving to help promote happiness in our lives and the lives of others.
Giving with Care Helps Us Feel Happy
UCA has many ways to share caring near and far, with ourselves, and those we hold close to our hearts. Some of these are in the forms of gifts, resources and tools, and the gift of time. All of these options help us feel happy. It is our joy to hear that there have been numerous studies on this very subject. These studies conclude that giving to others actually helps promote happiness. “Happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, saw similar results [in comparison to her colleges] when she asked people to perform five acts of kindness each week for six weeks.These good feelings are reflected in our biology.” (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/5_ways_giving_is_good_for_you) What else is great is that happiness can be increased by acts of caring and kindness. For example, the giving and receiving of Swedish massages reducing anxiety, depression, and stress hormones.
There are many studies out there on happiness and many are very informative on the impact of caring acts. One such study was done by researchers from the University of Zurich in Switzerland. In this study the researchers wanted to see if there is a difference of happiness levels in the brain between just saying that you will give verses actually giving. “(They) told 50 people they’d be receiving about $100 over a few weeks. Half of the people were asked to commit to spending that money on themselves, and half were asked to spend it on someone they knew.” (https://time.com/collection/guide-to-happiness/4857777/generosity-happiness-brain/) What is interesting is that the researchers began the study by asking each participant to think about someone they would like to give a gift to and place a monetary value on that generosity. Then they scanned the brains of the participants with an MRI machine to measure the activity levels of areas in the brain that are associated with social behavior, decision-making, generosity and happiness. “Their choices—and their brain activity—seemed to depend on how they had pledged to spend the money earlier. Those who had agreed to spend money on other people tended to make more generous decisions throughout the experiment, compared to those who had agreed to spend on themselves.” (https://time.com/collection/guide-to-happiness/4857777/generosity-happiness-brain/) Ultimately, it didn’t matter how much the participants spent on others. The results showed that giving helped with increased feelings of happiness. We are happy to read that the participants in this study reported higher levels of happiness upon completion of the experiment. There was an additional surprise for the researchers during these scans. The participants also had more interaction between altruism and happiness!
Altruism, tell me more please?
Altruism is when we put the needs of others before those of our own. Some examples are holding the door open for someone entering or leaving at the same time as you, offering your bus seat to a senior, or our favorite is offering to pick up coffee our colleagues. These care-giving acts have positive effects upon our mental wellbeing and helps reduce stress.
If we feel happier, then we tend to be healthier too! In his book Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Stephen Post, a professor of preventive medicine at Stony Brook University, reports that giving to others has been shown to increase health benefits in people with chronic illness, including HIV and multiple sclerosis. (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/5_ways_giving_is_good_for_you) This evidence is backed up by a 1999 study led by Doug Oman of UC Berkeley in California. He found that of the seniors who volunteered for multiple organizations were almost 50% less likely to die than non-volunteers. “Stephanie Brown of the University of Michigan saw similar results in a 2003 study on elderly couples. She and her colleagues found that those individuals who provided practical help to friends, relatives or neighbors, or gave emotional support to their spouses, had a lower risk of dying over a five-year period than those who didn’t.” (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/5_ways_giving_is_good_for_you) Why is this connection between giving and happiness so strong? Most of the research published on the web shows that when people give and volunteer, it activates areas of the brain connected with pleasure, trust and social connection. We often feel this as a warm glow or what is often referred to as the ‘helper’s high.’
Ideas on Ways to Give
Giving with care is a great way to promote happiness in our lives and those we encounter. Now the question comes into play, how do we pick one or more ways to give? Do we start big or small? With those we know, or with someone we pass on the street? The truth is that we can start giving in so many ways. Since there are so many ways to give, we at UCA want to list some ideas.
Happiness comes in so many forms. Giving is a great and easy start. We have big smiles at UCA when ever we have a chance to give with care. We are happy to be able to share this blog with our readers and members. Thank you for the gift of your time while reading this blog.
Unified Caring Association is constantly striving to help create a more caring world. We love sharing more caring information on our website and through blogs that share caring in our community, activities, and reviews. We also send out caring posts on our social media accounts (Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter) to give inspiration throughout the week.
Just like acts of gratitude, kindness can go far. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) are so excited to share that DoTerra has organizing worldwide 15 Day Kindness Challenge. We love a good challenge! This is similar to our Caring Challenge where each day there are suggestions for the day to promote caring and kindness.
Acts of kindness help change the world.
“One small act of kindness can change someone’s life. So imagine what millions of acts can do.” (DoTerra) This movement is all over social media with the hashtag #bekindtogether. The goal is to reach 250,000 acts of kindness. Each person who chooses to pledge doing 15 acts of kindness for 15 days adds up fast. This movement began August 29th, and they are currently on day 9.
The person who organized this movement is Leon Logothetis. He is known at DoTerra at the Kindness Ambassador. Leon is quoted on their website saying “Kindness makes people feel less alone.” We find this to be true in most areas around the world. Some examples are relief efforts in areas where natural disaster has hit and the homeless receiving gifts of meals by others who are passing by. Leon is the perfect person to lead this movement of kindness. He travels the world spreading kindness. He has visited each continent, 90 countries thus far. Each life changing experience is filled with kindness and goodness of strangers. Leon is harnessing the power that comes for acts of kindness small and large in the effort to help change the world to be more caring and kind.
Would you like to pledge to spread caring and kindness? Click Here to link to sign up for the 15 Day Kindness Challenge!
Thank you to every ‘socialpreneur’ across the world spreading kindness and caring. Keep up the good work, we love it!
If you would like to read more about caring communities, UCA activities, and or caring articles on our blogs. If you would like some more caring in your day, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter.
Throughout each year, Unified Caring Association (UCA) holds scholarship contests to help those of all age ranges with funding for their education. Our recent fall applicants all had wonderful and caring essays that they submitted.
If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change? This was our most recent topic for the category for U.S. high school juniors and seniors. We were so impressed and moved by common themes we read that we shared them in our blog posts: Themes from Scholarships 2019 – Empathy to Passion, Themes from Essays – Gratitude, The Little Things Count, and Themes from Scholarships-Understanding Others: We are All Human. In these blogs we amplify these caring thoughts and actions, celebrating the growth, success, and innovative thinking for solving problems currently happening and in the future.
With these students we are looking at a brighter future. We are proud to honor these caring young adults who are taking steps in unique ways to create a better, more caring world. Thank you, and we are looking forward to your continued success!
Want to read more about UCA Scholarships? Click Here to link to our website. Would you like to catch the latest caring UCA activities and blogs? We love to share them on our social media feeds (Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter) in addition to posting them to the blog sites.