New Lunch Policy: The Cheese Sandwich Alternative
Students behind on lunch payments will receive a cheese sandwich alternative after three unpaid hot lunches.
The School Committee has passed a new policy that will limit students who are behind in their lunch payments to a cold cheese sandwich lunch. They took the action at Tuesday night's meeting, despite some protests from parents.
Parents can deposit money into a lunch-money account called NutriKids. On the NutriKids website, parents can add money to accounts and check balances for food services.
The new policy would kick in when a student had already gotten three hot lunches beyond what was in his or her account. The cheese sandwich alternative, according to school officials, meets nutrition guidelines. It includes a cold cheese sandwich, fruit and milk.
"There's got to be some limits and some responsibility on the kids," said School Committee Vice-Chair Bob Durant, who was originally against the policy.
Some parents at the School Committee meeting, however, felt differently.
"It's not a little deal to little kids, it's a big deal. Kids get embarrassed," said a parent from Meadowbrook Farms who asked to remain anonymous.
"If I don't put enough money in the account he's going to walk up there and get a cheese sandwich. That's embarrassing," she continued. "I don't see the cheese sandwich as a solution to the problem."
School Committee member Mary Ellen Winters said that some policy needed to be enacted. "We have to absorb the costs otherwise," Winters said.
The new policy also states that students can only charge reimbursable meals or milk to delinquent accounts and not a la carte items. Also, principals will now receive a list of those students whose balance exceeds negative $10.
Until now, notifications have been sent out at negative $20 in the account.
"I don't think it's such a bad lesson to teach kids that you can't use the card unless you have money on the card," School Committee Chairwoman Deidre Gifford.
"It should be more on the parents and not on the kids though," said Cheryl Osborne, Meadowbrook parent.
If the student spends $20 beyond what is on account and there has been no response from parents, the new policy says the account will be closed.
"A charge card is not an infinite amount of money. We would be doing a disservice to our children not teaching them that. Lunch in our district is not free for everyone; there is a program for that," said School Committee member David Green.
Gifford reiterated that the new policy would provide an incentive for the parents to pay and is within the nutrition guidelines.
This new policy will be implemented January 1, 2012.