New Jersey School District Considers Not Serving Lunch To Kids Who Owe $20 Or More

A New Jersey school district held a recent meeting concerning a strict a policy already on their books that says ‘If a child owes more than $20 in cafeteria debt, they won’t be served any food for lunch’.

Of course, the community was not happy with the board’s discussions. In the district, more than 6 percent of the families live below the poverty line and around 20 percent are “economically depressed.”

The original rule was created in 2017 but then decided to cover $25,000 in lunch debt in an effort to allow families to start fresh.

In just two years, the debt has skyrocketed back up to $18,000, which is why officials are considering the strict policy: “If we don’t adhere to our policy, we’re going to be perpetually, I feel, chasing after this problem,” Assistant Superintendent Lynn Shugars said.

The community did not like the fact that the idea was even being talked about:

“Cutting off kids’ lunches? Ridiculous. Unacceptable. Will get to the bottom of this to make sure it doesn’t happen. We are a community that’s better and smarter than this!” said Cherry Hill Township Council President David Fleisher.

School officials have stated that they would be giving children whose families owe at least $10 in debt a tuna sandwich. They would then cut off their ability to eat after they reached $20 in debt and their parents have been sent two warning letters regarding the district’s free and reduced-cost lunch program:
“The letter encourages parents to reach out to the district to discuss payment options and explains how they can sign up for the free and reduced-price lunch program,” district Superintendent Joseph N. Meloche said in a statement. “On a case-by-case basis, delinquencies have been forgiven for families who do not qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, but who are facing hardships nonetheless.”

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Meloche told reporters the problem isn’t the families that can’t pay for their children’s lunches, but rather the families that can afford it…We honestly have no idea how they were able to come to that conclusion without having any financial records from the families.

As schools face tighter budgets, this trend doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. A Pennsylvania district recently threatened to put kids in foster care over unpaid debts, while two Rhode Island districts were criticized for turning lunch debt over to a collections agency.

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