School district threatens to put kids in foster care over lunch debt
Unpaid student meal debts are on the rise in area schools
OLYMPIA – A year-old law ensuring students receive lunch without fear of embarrassment if they are unable to pay is stoking a rise in unpaid meal debts for school districts around the state. A bill making its way through the state House supports greater independence for districts in managing meal accounts and collecting debts while still preventing public chastising of any student with an overdue account. It could be they lack enough cash in their pocket, have insufficient funds in their school meal charge account or have accrued a large unpaid meal debt. Dubbed the Hunger-Free Student Bill of Rights, it bars school staff from taking any actions which single out students and specifically outlaws providing an alternative meal, like a bagged lunch, which some school districts in Snohomish County had routinely done. Upon its passage in March, school officials, including those overseeing meal programs, voiced concern it would clear the way for any student to get breakfast and lunch for free every day regardless of their financial situation.
In the Marysville School District, unpaid meal debt stands at $77,000 this school year compared to $31,000 for the entirety of the previous year. Two years ago, district policy didn’t allow for students to charge meals, which led to minimal meal debt, according to district spokeswoman Kelly Franson. It offered unlimited meal charges and at year’s end the balance was $117,000 in unpaid debt. Another change would allow districts to offer a less-expensive alternative meal to those who are unable to pay for a meal or to receive one because of unpaid charges. Whatever is offered must be a meal that any other student could get.
Finally, under the proposed bill, student in grades 9-12 could be denied a meal or a la carte food item if the state does not provide money to the districts to cover the cost. Schools could deny high school students a lunch if they reached the spending limit on their meal charge account established by their parent or guardian.
APS is letting parents pay down other students’ lunch debt
A new Atlanta Public Schools program will allow families to pay off the lunch debt of other students. This school year, the district is serving free breakfast and lunch to all students at 77 APS schools, including every traditional school and all of the charter schools that use the district’s food service provider. That means all students can eat school meals at no cost, regardless of family income. The district will receive federal reimbursement for the meals. Some students have leftover money on their school meal accounts or unpaid meal debt from last school year.
Families with existing funds on their meal accounts can receive a full refund or donate their unused money to help pay off other students’ unpaid balance from last year. They also can donate the leftover money to the Atlanta Community Food Bank. The district announced the refund and donation options on Thursday. Parents can ask for a refund or donate funds using an online form on the APS website. The district said that all donations made to another student’s meal account or to the food bank will be tax deductible.
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Community member pays off school lunch debt for hundreds
Community member pays off school lunch debt for hundreds. Local principal reacts to news that school lunch debt is paid off. Hundreds of students in Palm Beach County won’t have to worry about unpaid lunch debt this school year, thanks to the generosity of local donors. According to the school district, a member of the community donated $944 to zero out the deficit of 430 students in Jupiter-area schools. About 950 students attend Jupiter Elementary, said Nicole Daly, the school’s principal.
Levy said he learned about the lunch debt on Facebook. Levy said he primarily works with properties in the Jupiter area. He calls Jupiter his adopted home and he didn’t hesitate to help. Local real estate agent Andrew Levy with Echo Fine Properties in Palm Beach Gardens, made it happen. School district officials said another donor gave $5,000 earlier in the school year.
Madison Metropolitan School District employees fundraise thousands for school lunch debt
This year, the department decided to do something to give back. The employees wanted to do something that would have a direct impact on the students of the district. With over 1,000 students in Madison who are homeless or displaced, the department looked at the nearly $25,000 of unpaid student lunch balances. Within hours after Ndafooka shared the fundraiser on her Facebook account, she had raised triple their goal. As of Wednesday evening, the staffers have raised over $8,000 and awareness for a real problem their students face everyday.
Second Harvest Foodbank has found 1 in 6 children in Southwestern Wisconsin face hunger. The employees are keeping the campaign through December 31st and trying to raise enough money to pay off the entire debt of $25,000. To donate to the fundraiser, head to the Facebook page.