N.J. School Will Deny Students Lunch if They Have No Money – Fair or Unfair? [POLL]
Parents should be responsible for feeding their own kids. That’s something we can all agree on.
And while it seems unfair to punish the child for the delinquency of the parents should their lunch money accounts run dry; lunch ladies have the responsibility of throwing a student’s lunch away if the account is delinquent.
That’s a sin.
But it’s the harsh reality in Willingboro, where students who receive humanitarian lunches (i.e. those not on the free lunch program) will have their lunches thrown out if there’s no money left in their accounts.
Do you feel it’s fair to let the kids suffer because their parents aren’t replenishing their lunch funds?
In a letter from schools superintendent Ronald Taylor, parents in the Burlington County town learned the district will no longer be offering humanitarian meals to students whose lunch accounts have gone delinquent.
If the child loads up a tray and there's no money available, the school employee is instructed to throw the meal away, the report said.
The jolting new policy is the result of a failure by parents to apply for the Free and Reduced Lunch program, which uses state money to help feed low-income students.
He said the district spent $50,000 last year to feed children who could not pay for their meals, and whose parents did not apply for the program. Children on the program will not be affected by the policy, the report said.
Critics of the plan, including Willingboro parents, say the district should come up with a different way to handle delinquent accounts that does not punish children.
Marie Gagliardi, a longtime Willingboro resident and mother of two said, “If you want to punish the parents, publish their names in the paper like they do with people who are past due on their taxes.”
Two other New Jersey districts, Passaic and East Orange, have similar policies in place.
Two North Jersey assemblymen, Joseph Cryan, D-Union, and Jason O’Donnell, D-Hudson, described the new policy as “something from the Dark Ages.”
“This is just outrageous,” Cryan said. “With poverty on the rise and families struggling to make ends meet, this is cruel and unreasonable.”
“This policy is wrong and must be changed,” O’Donnell said. “We need to care for our children, not deny them meals.”
Gagliardi suggested making lunch free for all students, much like the Boston school system did this fall.
The Boston public schools offer students two free meals every school day, whether or not their families can afford them. The program, known as the Community Eligibility Option, is run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Besides easing hunger, school officials said, the program helps erase a stigma that plagued some students from poor families.
Jim Weill, president of the nonprofit Food Research and Action Center, said the program in Boston saves schools money because it’s less expensive to feed more students than to do paperwork for children who qualify for free or reduced-price meals.
Yeah, that would seem to be the easier way to go about it: feeding each and every kid no matter what the income of the parents. I’m sure though, that not every kid is going to want to eat whatever the schools dole out for lunch.
Besides, we always come back to the issues of cost and responsibility. Cost factors in, despite what officials say, because taxpayers don’t want to have to fund what some delinquent parents won’t. Responsibility is obviously an issue in that any responsible parent would make sure their child’s lunch account isn’t delinquent.
However, I just can’t see throwing out someone’s lunch right in front of them just because they can’t pay.
A sin to waste the food, and like someone said, like something out of Dickens.
Why not just go back to the way it was. Do away with lunch accounts and have kids pay for their lunch in cash. That way, while not perfect, it theoretically eliminates the need to thrown lunch away.
Or possibly continue with the present plan of allowing students to still eat lunch even if there lunch accounts are lacking funds with the provision that if the shortfall isn't made up by the end of the year, the child could be left back.
Either way it seems cruel to take it out on the child, yet unfortunately some children will have to suffer for the sins of their parents!
Should a child’s lunch be thrown out if their lunch account doesn’t have enough money in it?