Fort Bend ISD School lunch Debt (5-18-2016)
Salem Church of God program wipes out lunch debt at 9 schools
Hawker started calling more and more school districts, explaining the effort, and learning that their outstanding student balances ranged from hundreds to thousands of dollars. He said the church will eliminate the student lunch debts at nine districts – Brookville, Northmont, Vandalia-Butler, New Lebanon, Milton-Union, Tri-County North, Franklin-Monroe, Troy and Kettering. OCTOBER: School bans activities if lunch debt not paid. The church is now setting aside some of the money to build an “Angel fund” to help with lunch debt in the future. “There was immense gratitude. Our schools spend so much of their time giving and giving, so for them to get to receive is a big deal.” A federal provision makes all students eligible for free school lunch in the highest-poverty communities, such as Dayton and Trotwood. School districts charge other students for lunches to offset the costs of a large food service program. A recent School Nutrition Association study revealed 75% of U.S. schools had unpaid student lunch debt, as families fall behind for a variety of reasons. Some schools allow students to continue getting a regular hot lunch while they ask parents to catch up on late payments, and others limit the student to a “Basic lunch,” such as a cheese or peanut butter sandwich and milk, until the debt is paid. MAY: Yogurt company pays off thousands in lunch debt. He said no student goes without food in his district, but sometimes cafeteria workers or teachers cover a lunch for a student whose family is behind. Southards said the church is inviting school officials and any affected families to attend the church’s March 1 services for a celebration.
Wyoming Valley West Turns Down Offers to Pay off Lunch Debt
Now, a Philadelphia businessman has stepped in, offering to pay off the lunch debt, but the school turned the offer down. The district says it’s owed $22,000 for unpaid lunches and sent about 1,000 letters to parents telling them to pay up. News of the threatening letters reached Todd Carmichael, CEO and co-founder of La Colombe Coffee in Philadelphia. “No strings attached. We don’t want an airport named after us. We’d just like this debt to be forgiven. You know a lot of these people are struggling,” Carmichael said. Carmichael says school board president Joseph Mazur told him no. Carmichael tells Newswatch 16 he wanted to pay the debt because growing up, he was raised by a single mom on a limited income, and he was a recipient of free lunch as a child. “I was angry. I was upset, and I just said, ‘Guys, don’t give up.’ Maybe it’s just emotion, but that was it. They won’t take our calls. They won’t take anything,” Carmichael added. Wyoming Valley West School Board officials tell Newswatch 16 they’ve received about 100 offers from donors all over the country. School board vice president David Usavage says he would be in favor of taking the offered donation and wiping the debts clean. “They should take it only due to the fact that it’s a good Samaritan who’s doing something good for children. Children don’t have a voice, so they might as well just take it,” said Marilyn Keegan of Kingston. School board officials tell Newswatch 16 they’ll be speaking to a lawyer Wednesday morning to consider how and if they would take this money. Carmichael tells Newswatch 16 his offer is still on the table.
United States Senator Bernie Sanders is calling for an end to “School lunch debt”. If students can’t make their lunch payments – on a regular basis – there have been cases of schools refusing to serve them meals, or offering snacks instead. A school district in Rhode Island reversed a policy which would have limited pupils who owed lunch money to a meal of a jam and peanut butter sandwich, according to the Guardian. Schools are encouraged to discuss debts privately and directly with adults, rather than through the child. Responding to the issue of school lunch debt in 2017, USDA introduced a rule which required schools to have written policies on unpaid meals. “We are committed to continuing to work with schools to minimize the impact of unpaid meal charge issues on children, and on their bottom line,” said a USDA spokesperson. There’s an incomplete picture of school lunch debt across the country. It’s not obvious if school lunch debt is growing, or is just an issue which has gathered more public opinion recently, he added. A government study in 2012 found that 58% of school districts incurred unpaid meal costs during the previous school year. A more recent survey by the SNA of 1,550 school districts, found that three-quarters of public school districts held unpaid meal debt at the end of 2017. The median debt at the school district level, amassed by all the schools in that area, was $2,500. The figures aren’t broken down by individual school, so we don’t know how much debt is owed per school or per student. Government funds cannot be used once the debt becomes “Bad” so schools are forced to use their school budgets or seek donations, said Ms Pratt-Heavner.
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