Star and Diamond meet Ms. Fatima, the “food lady”.
This is Ms. Fatima and her daughter, Saffah. Ms. Fatima works at Becker Elementary School, where she has a contract providing cooked lunch for the Child-care Centre at the school. The food program is covered by a subsidy. Saffah helps her prepare some of the food before she leaves for school.
Ms. Fatima knows most of the children in the Centre due to their dietary needs and puts a name label on each child’s lunch.
She has been worried about sisters, Star (5) and Diamond (4), who are 10 months apart, and in the same class. They started half-day junior kindergarten in the morning and come to the child-care for lunch and early learning and child-care in the afternoon. They are overly friendly with Ms. Fatima when she arrives at the Centre and always ask Ms. Fatima for extra food. The child-care staff have talked to Ms. Fatima about their food issues. They have been caught putting food in their pockets and often do not eat all their lunch because they want to take it home. All children take home what they don’t eat. But this doesn’t happen very often because the food plates are well portioned. Ms. Fatima has discussed some strategies with the staff and has brought in some extra food for the girls so they can eat their lunch and take some food home. Unfortunately, they are still not eating their whole lunch, deciding to take it home.
Child-care staff have attempted to contacted the girls mother, Ms. Hails, but have not successfully had a conversation with her. They have called her cell phone number during several different times in the day and left messages. They have sent an email to the listed home email address and have not heard back. Last week they put a typed letter in an envelope in Star’s backpack, however, it remained in the backpack for the entire week. Two days ago they sent a letter via post.
Today is Saturday, and it’s the Green Oaks Community Picnic and Fair. Fatima has come to the picnic with her two children, Saffah, who helps her with the lunches, and Ahmad. She is looking forward to enjoying the time with her own children to enjoy the games and festivities. It’s almost noon, and there is Halal food truck at the fair and she plans on eating lunch at the fair with her children.
While watching her children participate in the games on the grass, she sees Star and Diamond from the Child-Care Centre. When they see Ms. Fatima, they run over and hug her. While she is touched by their affection, she knows this is an overstatement of affection and promotes some appropriate boundaries by creating some space between herself and the children. With a big smile, she says that it is nice to see the two of them.
Fatima looks around for their mom, or dad, or whoever is looking after them. She has not met their caregiver before because she arrives at the Centre just before lunch and does not see who drops them off. In between encouraging her own children and looking around, she finally asks the older child, Star, who was here with them? She doesn’t answer. Then she is more direct and says, “who is looking after you?” Star takes Diamond’s hand and says, “let’s go,” when Diamond says, “we came here to play, my mommy was asleep when we left.” Trying not to look shocked, Fatima asks where she lives, then Star says, “come on, Diamond!” As they leave, Diamond picks up a piece of a hot dog bun off the ground and shoves it in her mouth. “Ew,” she says quietly to herself and thinks, “now what should I do?” After trying to watch the two girls for a bit as they meander through the crowd, she loses track of them while trying to watch her own children as well. Fatima is conflicted about what to do. She knows it is not ok for them to be without adult supervision. When she sits down to eat with her children Star and Diamond reappear. With relief, Fatima asks the girls where they went. Star said that they were going to go home but Diamond wouldn’t leave so they were playing at one of the activities. As Fatima is passing food out to her children she offers the girls to sit with them and eat. They readily sit down and tuck in to the meal Ms. Fatima purchased from the Halal approved food truck. With the girls in a safe place she texts her supervisor from work about what she should do. Fatima waits ten minutes for her boss to respond and gets nothing. She tells the children to stay where they are because she is going to get them dessert. She does this to give herself some time to think. She returns with some sweets to the children’s delight, however, she still doesn’t know what to do about Star and Diamond.
What should Fatima do?