It’s Time to Check Your School’s Duty Lunch Policy
School lunches – and policies that dishonor the children of parents with lunch arrears – are on the news again. The New Jersey school reportedly now prohibits students from engaging in extracurricular activities such as dancing and field trips if their parents owe more than $ 75. This is a terrible policy that replaces the previous terrible policy.
CBS Philadelphia reports:
The old policy was that district students who owed more than $ 10 were allowed only tuna sandwiches. Students did not receive food if they owed $ 20 or more.
The new policy will also keep students not paying after repeated requests for extracurricular activities.
Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ilhan Omar introduced legislation this month that will help provide three meals a day and snacks to all U.S. schoolchildren. But while we await the fate of this bill, parents need to be aware of the lunch debt policy in their schools.
If you are unsure of how your child’s school lunch debt is handled, now is the time to find out, especially if you are a parent who can afford to pay the bill and wants to be an ally of those who might be struggling. … You can use this breaking news as an excuse to forward the article to your principal and tell him that this is a topic on your mind and you would like to know how it is being treated at your school. (If you do not receive a response, please contact the superintendent’s office.)
If your school is doing something that sets off the parents’ children with lunch arrears, it is time to step in for the sake of your child’s peers who are not responsible for it and do not deserve any of the shame associated with it. If your school has a PTA or PTO, consider contacting the group president to call a parent meeting on the matter to get other parents’ views on policies and ways to support parents who are in debt. Then, in a group or one-to-one, you can meet with your school or district administration to discuss your concerns and suggestions.
Ultimately, if there is an inappropriate policy and administrators are not willing to advocate for change, you need to report your concerns directly to the school board, which approves the policy.
Juliana Cohen, assistant professor of nutrition at Harvard University, tells Popular Science that stigma around school meals can negatively impact children’s mental health and stress levels.
This is observed with children who, for example, feel like they are being hung out for a school lunch. “When we eliminate this stigma, children’s lives change for the better.” Some schools do this by handing out reading cards to all students in the cafeteria so that they don’t see who is paying or not paying for their meals. Overall, according to Cohen, the quality of free meals is improving in schools, but not debt for meals. “When you give a child a cheese sandwich, you bring back that stigma.”
Hopefully you will find that your school does not exclusively serve cheese or tuna sandwiches to children of parents with lunch arrears, and does not prohibit them from participating in the following fun extracurricular activities. But if you do, you can and should get involved.