A couple of blocks from Paint Branch High School, in Maryland’s Montgomery County, there's a strip mall with a 7-Eleven, a Pizza Hut and a Chinese restaurant. And every day around 11 a.m., the students from Paint Branch start rolling in. Kelvinesha Palmer, 18, in braids and a baseball cap, emerges from 7-Eleven with a drink and some chicken wings. Price tag: $7.77.
That’s a lot more than the $0.40 she would have paid for lunch at school. Palmer qualifies for reduced-price meals because her mom earns less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level. But since Kelvinesha has a part-time job, serving food at a retirement home, she skipped the cafeteria and splurged.
"I just didn’t like what they were having today," Palmer says. What was on the menu? "I think it was mozzarella sticks or the Beefaroni spaghetti thing."