automatic News for 10-22-2019

One Good Thing: Lunch debt paid in Grandville

School meals are a key component to student success both in and out of the classroom. When a child arrives without cash in hand or in her school meal account, the school must decide how to respond. Over the weekend, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law that mandates all students are entitled to a school lunch, whether or not they have the funds to pay. We have seen a series of school districts recently take steps in the other direction, resulting in embarrassment and humiliation for their students. 

Last month, a child had his lunch meal thrown in the trash on his birthday because he accrued $9 in unpaid school meals fees while the school district was still processing his free school meal application. Make no mistake: Subjecting students to embarrassment because of a lack of funds to pay for school lunch is always unacceptable. Lunch debt is a longstanding problem for families and schools across the country. Students who just miss the cut off for free school meals in the National School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program and qualify for reduced-price school meals can be charged a maximum of 30 cents per day for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch. Those who do not qualify for reduced-price school meals are charged the meal price set by the district. 

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to examine the issue of school meal debt and ultimately required school districts to establish a policy for unpaid school meals fees. The No Shame at School Act, introduced by Sen. Tina Smith and Rep. Ilhan Omar would ban any kind of identification of students who cannot pay for lunch at school, like wristbands or hand stamps, and would not allow schools to publish lists of students who owe money for school meals or use debt collectors to recoup meal fees. 

It also would result in more eligible children being certified for free or reduced-price school meals, and provide schools retroactive school meal reimbursement for students who are certified for free or reduced-price school meals later in the school year. 

Keywords: [“School”,”meal”,”lunch”]

Lunch It Forward program helping all Fairfield youth shed lunch debt

FAIRFIELD, Ohio – Scraping together the money to pay for a school lunch every day can be a challenge for many families, and the uncertainty of whether they can get lunch can also affect students’ performance in school overall. Fairfield City Elementary schools try to offset this challenge by providing PB&J or cheese sandwiches for students who can’t afford lunches, but that option can leave some students still hungry, and doesn’t account for dietary restrictions like allergies. The district also said some families who don’t qualify for free or reduced lunch still struggle to get the money together for a daily lunch. Enter Ted McDaniel, founder and president of the non-profit Dougie & Ray’s. Dougie & Ray’s is working to ensure that kids can just be kids, and shed their worries over where their lunch meal could be coming from. 

The organization’s Lunch It Forward program starts this week in Fairfield Elementary schools and will help pay off lunch debt for the youngest students in the district. The overall goal of the Lunch It Forward program is to encourage families who use it to pay it forward, donating back into the program to provide lunch for other students when they’re financially able. The district said they’re already seeing this happen. Based on how many students relied on alternative lunches over the last few years, the district estimates this program will contribute about $15,000 to help Fairfield children get a full lunch. 

Keywords: [“lunch”,”student”,”school”]

US school ‘sorry’ for foster care threat over lunch debt

A Pennsylvania school that warned parents to pay outstanding lunch fees or risk their children going into foster care has apologised and accepted a donation to cover the debt. Wyoming Valley West School District had initially turned down the offer by a local businessman to pay off the $22,000 debt. Wyoming Valley West school had initially sent about 1,000 letters to families who still owed money for their children’s school lunches. Some of the individual debts stood at $400, the school said. It warned that the parents could be taken to Dependency Court as a result of failing to send their child to school without either money or food. 

It is unclear why the school initially rejected the offer, but it had changed its mind by Wednesday. Some schools have been refusing to serve children meals, or offering them snacks instead, if they can’t make their lunch payments regularly. 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. 

Keywords: [“school”,”debt”,”lunch”]

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