My daughter, Jeanie, has completed the requirements to be a certified librarian in the public school system.
Her first job took her to a community distant from Callaway County. She found an apartment, and all was well. Besides the checking in and out of books, she also read to each elementary class, kept tabs on names of all the elementary students, got returned books back in their rightful places, checked out different books to the children, and fell in love with her students and her job.
Little did she know another job was that of taking a turn at lunch duty. The week Jeanie was on lunch room duty, she noticed one little boy whose body was shaking. She approached his table, leaned over and asked what seemed to be his problem.
This youngster had spent far too many days bringing only a peanut butter sandwich to school for his lunch. On the particular day my daughter noticed this child, the school menu included a grilled cheese sandwich. The youngest was crying, trying to hide his face in his arms. When Jeanie asked if she could help him, his reply was, "I really wish I could have a cheese sandwich."
My daughter stated that she kept thinking of this dear little fellow and remembering an article she had read written by Joe Phillips, a superintendent of a different school. He wrote about the crisis in education and the tiny voices of students: "Hear my cry!" Jeanie said she did not remember the name of the child who cried for a cheese sandwich, but her heart ached for him and the countless others out there who needed to be listened to and heard.
Jeanie investigated and learned there was a financial problem in the home. She offered the school secretary enough money to buy the child's lunch for two weeks but was told her money could not be accepted. This particular child was being used as a lever to get to his parents. It seems the parents had been offered free lunch for their child. Either from neglect or pride they had failed to sign the papers, so their child ate his peanut butter sandwich, day after day, a silent victim, until he could handle it no more. He put his head in his arms on the table, in front of his peers and cried for a cheese sandwich.
As a former teacher myself, I know there are laws everywhere for everything, and the laws must be followed. I still find it hard to understand how anyone can justify actions such as this. The incident, in my opinion, was child abuse as much as those children who are physically beaten or molested. This child was crying out in a tiny voice to be heard. One can only imagine his embarrassment and humiliation at breaking into tears in front of his friends and classmates for a cheese sandwich.
My daughter said a few days later the parents did come to school to sign the necessary papers for their child to receive a hot lunch with a variety of foods. But the damage had been done, and it was not easily forgotten by the child involved and those who saw him.
Even though I do not personally know anyone involved except my daughter, I cannot get this incident out of my mind. As a former teacher, responsible for helping the lives and behaviors of young children, it reminds me again to go the extra mile for any children I might meet. I must be alert and ready, for who knows, someday I might just meet a child who is crying out in a tiny voice to be heard. There may be a child who only needs "a cheese sandwich" to make the day bearable. Heaven forbid I would not hear and respond to that cry.
The recipe included this morning would please anyone, adults and children alike. Give it a try.
1 8 oz. can refrigerator crescent rolls
4 wooden skewers
4 strips American cheese (1/2 by 3 inches)
2 tbsp. barbecue sauce
1/4 cup bread crumbs
Separate dough into four rectangles. Split each frank lengthwise and insert cheese. Push skewers into one end of each frank. Wrap franks in dough and pinch edges and ends to seal. Brush with sauce and dip in crumbs. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!