Change the policy regarding overdue lunch accounts

This petition made change with 1,426 supporters!

On May 20, 2015 and in previous years, at Bedford Elementary School, a few children stood in line to get their lunches only to have them abruptly taken away and then thrown into the trash. Why? Because of lack of communication between the school and parents, or their parents had not paid their cafeteria bill. Even though my child was not involved, I feel this needlessly harsh act in complete public view was extremely disturbing on so many levels – the humiliation, the waste, and the bullying by school administrators/faculty.

Yes, bullying. How could it be classified as anything else – it was aggressive, intimidating and humiliating for all of the children involved. Shame, shame, shame on who ever thought this was a good plan. 

The shocked children with overdue balances who just had their hot lunch confiscated and dumped, were then handed a cold, cheese sandwich. How does a cheese sandwich sum up the requirements of a nutritious meal? 

Giving a child with an overdue balance “an alternate meal” will not solve the problem either as kids are very savvy and will understand that “those kids” are coming from either poor families or families derelict in paying their bills — especially after the regretful and very public incident yesterday. The end result is the child will still very likely be humiliated in front of their peers. My guess is many children will forgo any lunch in order to avoid the public shame. Countless studies show that good nutrition and regular meals are essential to learning, so how is this policy supporting students or teachers?

I understand that there are parents who do not for whatever reason pay their school bills, and this draconian policy will likely result in more bills being paid, but there must be another way that does not humiliate children for something they have so little to no control over. I urge school administrators to look into other options. Maybe a slush-fund that can help cover bills temporarily? Or just automatically enroll these children with chronic negative balances in the Federal Free/Reduced Lunch program. At the very least, warn the child privately before he or she goes to the lunch line and tries to collect a lunch!

Furthermore, if a family is truly financially-strapped, then we should come together as a community and make sure there is enough money in each child’s account so that they can be guaranteed access to a healthy lunch daily. I personally, would be happy to help a family in legitimate need and I am sure many others would be willing to help out too.

Please sign this petition if you feel our School District needs to change the policy regarding denying students a meal, and using an alternate meal. According to the USDA website regarding this matter, they encourage the schools to be flexible when the situation involves young children.


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