Digital Dive: Richfield schools 'lunch shaming' students?
Can you pay off Knox County students’ school lunch debt?
They’ve been circulating online, memes that suggest a specific kindness: Contact your local school to pay off the account of a child who can’t buy lunch – because no child should have to worry about being hungry. It’s a backlash to a rash of news stories in which seemingly callous school systems snatched back meals from children who didn’t have money at the end of the lunch line, replacing them with lesser alternatives or, in some cases, nothing at all. Knox County Schools doesn’t do that, assures Carly Harrington, the school system’s director of public affairs. Knox County Schools ended up eating $165,000 in unpaid lunch charges last year, Harrington said. In Knox County Schools, students not on the free or reduced lunch program pay $2.50 for a basic lunch in elementary school and $2.75 in middle and high schools, although there are items that can be added for an extra cost.
Under that program, signed into law in 2010 and expanded in 2014, schools where 40% or more of students automatically qualify for free or reduced lunch can opt to offer free breakfast and lunch to every student in that school. If you would like to donate to the Knox County school system specifically to pay for children’s school lunches, call the central office at 865-594-1800 for information. The federal government reimburses school systems for a portion of that, based on the percentage of students who would qualify for the free lunch program. Overall, the study found behavior improved slightly, but attendance rates and test scores did not – except in schools where students were more likely to face stigma for using the free lunch program. Students not on the free or reduced lunch program pay $2.50 for a basic lunch in elementary school and $2.75 in middle and high schools, although there are items that can be added for an extra cost.
The school board’s procedure for collecting debt starts with the school nutrition director notifying a parent in writing of unpaid meal charges and asking whether the family would like to apply for free or reduced lunch. Federal law prevents the school nutrition program from using its own funds for unpaid meal charges, so the department submits it to the Knox County Schools finance office for reimbursement from the General Purpose School Fund.
Lunch debt is rising in NJ, creating controversy over ‘lunch shaming’
A New Jersey congregation was so moved by stories of students who couldn’t afford school lunch or were singled out for debt that they dedicated more than $20,000 in offerings on a recent Sunday to five school districts. Lately, public ire has focused on the Philadelphia suburb of Cherry Hill over a policy letting administrators ban students from the prom and field trips if they owe more than $75. Students in the lunch serving area at School 3 in Paterson. Meal debt is growing, according to the School Nutrition Association, a non-profit professional organization for school nutrition employees. Three-quarters of schools reported having unpaid student food debt at the end of the 2017-18 school year in an SNA survey of nearly 800 districts, a figure that has stayed relatively steady in the last few years.
In the Montclair school district debt went up 30 percent in the last school year – totaling $130,000 as of June, according to a report in the Montclair Local. Public criticism over ‘lunch shaming’A few New Jersey school districts have faced public criticism over their handling of debt. Englewood also faced scrutiny three years ago – when lunch debt topped $100,000 – after instituting a policy saying they may notify child protective services of parents who don’t provide lunch and who ignore debt notices. Cherry Hill sparked outrage over a policy that allowed only tuna sandwiches for students with delinquent accounts and a proposal to ban students who have more than $75 in lunch debt from attending the prom and other extracurricular activities. Outstanding lunch debt totals $16,500 in Cherry Hill, according to the Courier-Post, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK.
The superintendent has refused to accept donations, saying it might inadvertently cover bills for families who are able to pay for lunch but have delayed or neglected to do so. 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. As president, I will fight for universal free school lunch and relieve all school lunch debt. The cost of school lunch in the United States averaged $2.48 in elementary school, $2.68 in middle school and $2.74 in high school in 2016-17, an SNA study found.
Florida man pays off Jupiter schools lunch debts
A Florida real estate agent made a huge difference for hundreds of students when he paid off their school lunch debt. Rew Levy found out more than 400 kids in the Jupiter area couldn’t afford their lunches and thought about how hard it would have been when he was in school to be hungry in class, CBS12-WPEC said. CBS12 said Levy met with the district and paid off all the outstanding $944.34 in student lunch debt in all nine of the public schools in the Jupiter area. Levy said he plans on making a fundraising page so he can raise money every quarter so he can keep lunch debts paid down and students never have to worry about where their next meal is coming from. Levy’s act of kindness started a chain reaction of kindness.
CBS12 said more than 200 people commented on a Facebook post of his saying they could help. According to WPTV, lunches in Palm Beach County schools cost $2.05 in elementary schools and $2.30 in middle and high schools. Students with lunch debt in Palm Beach County aren’t denied lunches at school but will get a sandwich instead of their regular entrée, according to WPTV. CBS12 said while Levy’s donation made a huge impact for students in Jupiter, Palm Beach County still has a total of about $51,000 in outstanding school lunch debt.