CHERRY HILL — Discussion of the school district's policy of serving tuna fish sandwiches to students whose lunch accounts are at least $10 overdue was met by criticism at Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting.

According to an earlier letter from Superintendent Joseph Meloche, every district in New Jersey is required to have a policy in place for students whose accounts are in arrears. In the two years that Cherry Hill's policy has been in effect, the district has absorbed more than $14,000 in unpaid lunch bills, Meloche wrote.

Many parents will pay the bill, but others do not respond or indicate they are aware of the debt, and have no intention of paying up, according to the superintendent.

At its Aug. 13 meeting, the board began to discuss the policy and how to proceed so as not to continue absorbing the debts and get parents to pay their bills.

The choice of a tuna sandwich was also brought up, as one board member said kids don't like it as much a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Meloche said in the letter that the part of the policy that would deny lunch to a child if the debt goes over $20 has never been enforced.

The discussion continued at Tuesday's meeting. Cherry Hill High School East student body president Oliver Adler asked the board to find a more private solution to the problem than "public shaming," according to video of the meeting aired by Fox 29.

In a video clip on 6ABC Action News, a parent told the board that she spoke with some second-grade girls who told her they all know what someone eating a tuna sandwich at lunch means.

Board of Education member Ruth Schultz summed up in a Fox 29 clip what the board is looking for in the discussion.

"I think we can all agree we want to keep feeding the children. I also think we have to be financially responsible to the district," Schultz said.

No final decisions or votes were taken at the meeting.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ.

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