Blak Thoughts – Denying Children Extracurricular Activities Due to Lunch Debt WTF IS GOING ON???!!
Student Lunch Debt Can Mean Prom And Field Trip Bans, New Jersey District Says
A New Jersey school district is under fire for a policy that permits its schools to bar students with mounting lunch debt from participating in extracurricular activities, including attending prom, going on field trips and buying yearbooks. The Cherry Hill Board of Education, which oversees 19 schools and 11,000 students outside of Camden, said its principals are allowed to withhold certain privileges should a student’s lunch debt reach $75 without a timely response from a parent. This penalty has also been levied against students who damage school property. Every kid needs and deserves a nutritious meal in order to learn at school. My plan will push to cancel student breakfast and lunch debt and increase funding to school meals programs so all students can get a nutritious meal.
Student lunch debt has been a longtime concern within the district. At a Board of Education meeting back in August, officials said student lunch debt had ballooned to $18,000. Cherry Hill Superintendent Dr. Joseph Meloche, speaking at the meeting, argued against wiping out a list of debt owed by students as a solution to the problem. Wilson repeated that point, stating that students, regardless of how much debt is owed, will receive a non-discriminatory school lunch.
Over the summer, the school district considered giving students who owed more than $10 tuna fish sandwiches for lunch. Students who owed more than $20 would have received nothing. Wilson also attempted to strike down multiple reports that the district turned down a local businessman’s offer to pay off the students’ current lunch debt.
Former marine raises nearly $8,000 to pay off local school lunch debt
A former US Marine in Virginia created a Facebook fundraiser to help pay off his local high school’s lunch debt. Scraping together the few dollars necessary to pay for a daily school lunch might not seem like an exuberant cost, but for many, it’s a few dollars too much. Around 30 million American students qualify for free or reduced-cost school lunches through a federal program called the National School Lunch Program. Even with that aid, many fall through the cracks and end up owing their school money. Schools often still feed the child, but the parents end up racking up lunch debt.
One Rhode Island school that said it was owed more than $40,000 from unpaid lunch payments started dishing out cold sandwiches to students who couldn’t afford to pay the full lunch price. In some cases, the burden of school debt can have more profound consequences, like earlier this year in Pennsylvania when a school threatened to send students to foster care if parents didn’t wipe their children’s balances. Stories like these prompted Virginia resident and former US Marine Dustin Wright to wonder whether schools in his own backyard were struggling. Wright contacted Amherst County High School, according to local news outlet WSET, and learned they had racked up over $4,000 in outstanding lunch debts. Shocked to action, the former Marine created a fundraiser on Facebook to help make a dent in the debt.
Amherst Public Schools did not immediately respond to Insider’s questions regarding how it would allocate the charitable funds. For Wright, the fundraiser was an unexpected success.
Local business pays off some school lunch debt
Contributed photos Alfonso Medina, the owner of La Carreta, paid off half of the reduced lunch debt for students in Marshalltown middle and high schools. 85 to the Marshalltown School District for negative student lunch accounts at Miller Middle School and the high school. Lynn Large, the director of food service for the school district, said Medina’s donation paid off half of the debt of meals and impacted the accounts of 25 middle school students and 55 high school students. Children in preschool through sixth grade are all eligible for free breakfast and lunch. Large said qualifying middle and high school students can received meals at reduced prices or free of charge. Donations for student meal debt is not unheard of but also is not incredibly common.
Some districts have chosen to impose penalties on students with negative account balances. The penalties could be a simple sandwich at school rather than a hot lunch, throwing the food away or not allowing students to go on field trips or to the prom. The Marshalltown School District does not engage in such activities. Medina said he had not heard of the school district penalizing children for negative account balances but did not want any debt to weigh on the minds of students. Paying off some of the debt also fits in to La Carreta’s new motto of not just thanking customers but investing in the community of Marshalltown.
Medina also offers scholarships to students at Iowa Valley Community College District.
Applebee’s Takes a Bite out of School Lunch Debt with Upcoming Fundraiser
One in five children in Michigan struggle with hunger, and many families fall just above the threshold to qualify for free and reduced lunches, ultimately still struggling to cover costs for student lunches. When accounts fall into debt, kids can be denied a proper lunch, not only leaving them hungry but also easily identifiable by their peers by a substitute lunch they are provided. This can lead to embarrassment and emotional stress, as well as leaving these students open to bullying by peers. Each of our participating restaurants is working directly with a local school or charity partner, and we want to encourage our neighbors to help make a difference in their communities by supporting this locally-focused fundraiser.