Sixty three percent of San Francisco eligible students do not accept government subsidized lunches because they feel it would lower their status among peers, The New York Times reported.
"Here in San Francisco, which has such a commitment to equality, this kind of segregation is occurring very blatantly," said Dr. Rajiv Bhatia of the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
Many students would rather eat nothing during their lunchtimes than be seen by their peers with a subsidized meal, the Times reported.
"Kids who wear nice shoes and nice clothes don't want to be associated with food that says 'I'm not able to provide for myself,'" Balboa High School senior class President Lewis Geist said.
School officials reportedly are considering cashless payment methods for cafeterias so the acceptance of subsidized food would be less obvious.