It's not that simple.
I once heard a lecture from a psychologist researching the effects brands have on teenagers, and she said owning a brand can deeply affect a teenager's self-assurance, create anxieties, etc.
Isn't that basically learning self-esteem and confidence?
But at the end of the day if you can't afford lunch, you need to reevaluate your priorities. Maybe get a slightly older iPhone, or one of the many cheaper but comparable Androids.
I've never heard of a school giving free lunch by default, though. Maybe in areas where 99% of the kids would qualify anyway?
Yes. Which there are a lot of, because poverty is so extremely concentrated.
I don't know if my comment is worthless, but even well off Americans/Westerners take for granted an immense number of things they receive effectively for free. If everything was itemized and billed directly society would be organized very differently.
This is not subsidized just through tax revenue but through forced borrowing as well as things others are obligated to perform for free (as complex as hospital care to as simple as clearing the sidewalk of snow in front of your property.)
Some of these things may last indefinitely, others the economics simply will not permit it, yet they are viewed as existing indefinitely by most.
"Free" lunches are provided by the state, so they don't need to budget for that expense. Lunch @ $3/day, 20 days/month in school, school year runs 10 months/year. Those "free" lunches just paid for the iPhone.
I'm not denying that other teens can and do feel the way your psychologist said, but I'm pretty sure it's a learned behavior, not something innate, and can be unlearned.
A huge failing of our society is that we don't teach people how to be responsible with money. All they see are ads telling them to buy more, spend all your money, keep up with the Joneses.
Either you have parents who teach you, or you figure it out on your own. And for the poorer people, it's just a cycle where they don't know, so their kids don't know.
I myself didn't realize until I stumbled upon Mr. Money Mustache two years ago (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/), and it kind of woke me up. Now I buy way less, save at least half my income every month, and am overall much happier.
The points I was making without spelling them out explicitly, before being confronted with the sad fact that too many people appear to have been watching the Hallmark Channel, are that there is no such thing as intrinsic worth, people make decisions that affect you based in part upon their assessment of your worth, and a lot of that assessment is based on possessions, money, job title and physical appearance.
Choosing to ignore this doesn't make it go away.
(I used to dismiss the importance of appearence as well. But the few days I do dress nice, everything changes)