Lunch restrictions???

Discussion in 'General Education' started by HWilson, Aug 24, 2011.

  1. HWilson

    HWilson Comrade

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    Does your school enforce a restriction on food students get if they owe a balance to the district?

    Our district implemented a new policy if a student has over a $25 balance in the cafeteria, lunch will be a sandwich, veggie or fruit, and a milk until they either pay thier balance down or make payment arrangements.

    I understand the district probably has a lot of money lost in balances in the cafeteria and I understand why they had to do something to resolve it..... BUT... I had to tell my students (that I have during lunch time) they had to take this option at lunch today. They were all given the policy and a balance sheet so they were aware this was coming and would be implemented today. We were sent an updated list of our students and at lunch time I had to pull my students aside and talk to them. I only had two and one of those was absent but it was an uncomfortable situation with the one that was there today. Tomorrow I have to do it again with the student that was absent today.

    I have very mixed feelings about this. I understand the district must do something to get this under control but on the other hand the child is being punished for their parents not paying the bill. Then as I was telling this child what she could eat today she looked so embarrassed. I felt TERRIBLE!!!!! I guess this is a no win situation!!

    Does anyone else's school do this?
     
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  3. iloveschool

    iloveschool Companion

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    My school does this if they owe $10. The kids don't mind thought because they are given a uncrustable PB&J. Believe me- it is better than the real food!! All the kids beg for it!
     
  4. soleil00

    soleil00 Comrade

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    My school does something similar and I really hate it. I mean, we have Pre-K through 1st Grade here only.

    My school does... basically they can "borrow" money from the cafeteria for three meals be it breakfast or lunch before they are cut off. After that.. I think they will give them a sandwich, usually grilled cheese or peanut butter, and a milk. Nothing else.
     
  5. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Ours get the same thing. Our cafeteria sends home many, many notices, so while it's not the kids' fault, I understand why they do it. Usually a kid only eats the sandwich lunch once before the bill is paid.
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    We don't have that sort of policy. All our lunches are prepaid and preordered. Kids who forget are given an extra lunch of the day and the family gets a notice from the PTO who run the program, but I don't think there are major repercussions.
    By the way, "sandwich, veggie or fruit, and a milk" is hardly a 'punishment'.
     
  7. HWilson

    HWilson Comrade

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    No, sandwich, veggie or fruit, and milk is not "hardly a punishment" but I do think it can single them out.
    I understand the district has to get balances under control but it was such an uncomfortable conversaion and I just felt so bad for the student.... :(
     
  8. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    I'm in a title one school and 98% of our kids get free lunch. In the last school I taught at the student would be able to charge 3lunches and after that to bad. (last school was very wealthy school district)
     
  9. HWilson

    HWilson Comrade

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    Oh, and as my husband is a chef and his current job is a kitchen manager at a school I do understand from their point what they are going through. I also understand it is a reimbursable meal by the fed. standards so it is considered a full, nutrious meal.
     
  10. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    It is embarrassing to students. It says to all who may see their tray: my parents can't or won't pay for my meals. It is, then, a punishment. It's not the food given (so many would be incredibly thankful for such a tray of food), but the fact they are given a different and purposefully "less than" lunch (whether some would prefer the sandwich or not).
     
  11. HWilson

    HWilson Comrade

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    Aug 24, 2011

    :thumb:
     
  12. soleil00

    soleil00 Comrade

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    :yeahthat:


    I have heard kids say "Why does ____ not have a normal lunch like we do?" and let me remind you these are Pre-K, K, and 1st graders. They notice. They ask. They don't understand and think it's.... odd that so and so doesn't get the same lunch as they do. Then we have to explain it...which is hard when 20 kids get the same lunch and 1 gets a sandwich and a milk.
     
  13. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    I'd rather have a PB&J or a Grilled Cheese for sure! I know it has to be embarrassing.
     
  14. Joy

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    I sub in a school where they have the same policy. The weird part of it though is that they don't get the different lunch from the lunch room. They have to pick it up in the office. I have no idea why.

    Usually the secretary will call me and tell me that this certain child needs to stop by the office and pick up the cheese sandwhich. They get to pick out a milk in the lunch room. I usually try to discreetly tell student so the others don't hear. That way it might just look like they brought a cold lunch with them for the day.
     
  15. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    What kind of food are the other kids getting? Something fancy? The "punishment" lunch sounds a lot like many of the normal meals our cafeteria serves. Our kids get some type of sandwhich regularly. They do occasionally do "uncrustables" and the kids act like it's the biggest treat in the world. I think most kids would prefer a sandwhich to whatever else the cafeteria comes up with anyway, so hardly a punishment. Almost all of our kids are on free lunch anyway, so it's not an issue at my school. The few wealthy kids we have pack. If the kid is not on free lunch then their parents can afford it, so I'm not sure it would necessarily single the kid out as "being poor" or something. Most librarians don't let kids who have a ton of of fines that aren't paid check out books, so how is that any different than the kid being "singled out" by being the only one in the class who doesn't get to take a book out from library? I don't think it's a bad policy, I just don't see how it would be that effective, considering most kids aren't going to care if they have a sandwhich for lunch. How is that going to make parents send money? I'd also think it would be more expensive to make something totally seperate for these kids than to give them a serving of whatever is already being mass-produced. It's not like they're saving money by saying "oh, we can make 5 less slices of pizza today because these 5 kids are getting sandwhiches." It seems like they'd spend more money doing two meals.
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think it's an honest effort to keep costs under control while at the same time not denying the kids a lunch.

    MANY kids in my school buy a sandwich instead of a hot lunch.

    And apparently these kids don't qualify for a free or reduced cost lunch, or it wouldn't be an issue.

    I'm sorry you were put into the uncomfortable position of having to talk to the kids.

    But I don't see the district as doing anything wrong; I think it's being handled well. The parents were sent a letter--- had there been extenuating circumstances they could have worked something out or sent in a bag lunch.
     
  17. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I don't think there is anything wrong with it. We had the same policy when I was in school. We got PBJ.
     
  18. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    But they're also young enough to accept an explanation at face value.

    Anything from "Different people like different lunches." to "I'm not sure, but his sandwich sure looks good" to "It's what his mom wanted him to have." would all be taken at face value by a 5 or 6 year old.
     
  19. mom2ohc

    mom2ohc Habitué

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    we have this policy at our school also. The students can charge three lunches, then they only get either a cheese sandwich, fruit/veggie & milk or pb&j with fruit/veggie & milk.

    The alternate lunches are also choices for everyone, so the kids are not getting some kind of "different looking" lunch.

    I understand the policy also, and my kids are forever getting into lunch debt. They never seem to care until friday when it is pizza day, then miraculously they have their owed lunch money lol!
     
  20. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    It is $15 at my school...when I first came here we didn't have the policy and I had a student that owed over $200 and her brother owed as much. We kept their report cards, memory books, and any end of the year "extra." Their parents didn't care. But the mom never came to school without a mani and pedi with special art and stones on her nails. They drove a Hummer and mom dressed in designer clothes...UGHHHHHHH!!!! The next year we started this policy. After a few peanut butter sandwiches, dad took over paying the lunch bill. The year before we started this policy we lost almost $10,000 in lunch money...considering our size, that is a big chunk of our budget. Since, it has been less than $200.
     
  21. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    Ours must be ZERO.

    I don't ever get an entire school lunch, but sometimes I like breakfast or one item from the lunch menu. I just write a check for $25 and put it in my account. One day I went to lunch without my money because I thought I had money in my account. I didn't have enough to cover what I bought, and they wouldn't let me take my lunch anyway and send a kid back down when I got back to my class. No time to return the lunch, go up to my room, write a check, get a plate, and eat. I was NOT happy.
     
  22. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    Same thing at the school I used to work at. Before the limit, obscene amounts of money were lost. After the limit, parents started paying.
     
  23. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    That's crazy... ours too must be zero, but for the KIDS. Faculty can carry a negative balance for up to two weeks, and if we don't pay, they simply dock our next paycheck. A few years ago the cafeteria tried to prevent teachers/staff from carrying a negative balance, and the outrage was so intense, the policy didn't last more than a few days. Even for kids though, they allow a few days wiggle room.
     
  24. soleil00

    soleil00 Comrade

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    Faculty get a "good faith" kind of thing. I mean, they can hunt us down if need be, so we really can't go very long without paying them LOL
     
  25. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    My school has a "no grace' policy. Any child that does not bring lunch money is given a pbj or cheese sandwich and a milk.
     
  26. cmw

    cmw Groupie

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    I worked 8th grade cafeteria duty for a whole semester last year & got to see this first hand.

    Our students get a cheese sandwich and a milk when they have a balance. Often students will just not eat instead of eating a cheese sandwich.

    Also students will have their tray of food & have to step aside & give the tray back. These are middle school students & you can see the embarrassment on their face. This often results in students getting rude with the cafeteria staff b-c they are trying to save face with their peers. :( Students will sometimes have extra money to but a snack & they are not allowed if they have a balance. All money has to go toward the balance first. That has also caused outbursts.

    I understand that food costs need to be kept in check...but I wonder if there is a better way?
     
  27. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    It actually makes me sad that not everyone understands how this is embarrassing.

    Someone said she didn't find the practice to be problematic but that she didn't see how it was easier or saved money...that's because it's not done to be easier and it's not done to save money. It is to shame the students who will hopefully persuade their parent(s) to pay in order to avoid the experience.
     
  28. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I didn't quote but I think it's really interesting how much one school got back when they went to a similar program.

    I don't think you should keep giving a kid a free lunch unless they're on free/reduced lunch. But I also think there should be a better way to do it like they go to the office and pick up a brown bag lunch so it looks like they just packed that day.

    I'm honestly not sure what our school does. My student teaching school was almost all free/reduced lunch. We had a lot of students who were supposed to get free lunch and still chose to go somewhere on campus and spend $10 a day on lunch at one of the restaurants. (My student teaching was an early college program on a university campus).
     
  29. SpecSub

    SpecSub Comrade

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    Our elementary schools give the kids a "no choice" meal at -$15. The middle and high schools won't feed the kids at all if their accounts are $5 short!
     
  30. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    We have a large number of free/reduced lunches. Parents choose to buy lunch for the month, or pack for the month. Everything is prepaid. We usually do give a lunch to kids who forget to pack it...but it's funny how many of those kids conveniently forget to bring lunch on pizza day.
     
  31. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    For our kids it is a zero balance. If they don't have enough for a lunch in their account then they recieve a cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwich with milk. Not sure if they get anything else. As for teachers I dont know, I wouldnt go near the school lunch.
     
  32. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    It was my second year teaching, my first year at this school. I didn't know much about their lunch policy. So, in the beginning of the year, kinder teachers were expecting to monitor their students while they got their lunch and paid for their meals before we were allowed our lunch break.

    So, one day, the head lunch lady grabs one of my students trays out of his hands and says that he can't have it, that he can only have milk and cereal.

    Talk about destorying his self esteem!!!! This 5 year old had NO CLUE what he did wrong, all he knew was that he wasn't allowed to eat his lunch that he had picked out.

    I was livid! One of the other kinder teachers, who also witnessed this was even more livid. She went as far as to speak about it at the board meeting. Apparently she became the black sheep! :( All admins and kiss butt teachers were angry that she stood up for my student.

    So, apparently, at my school, if they owe a cent, they will take your lunch away AFTER you had already picked it out. :( I was in resource for two years so they may have changed it since, but since I had nothing to do with their lunch anymore I was unaware if this was still like that.


    ETA: This student refused to come back into my classroom and only wanted to stay in the office, with tears silently falling down his cheeks. He was so embarressed that it happened in front of everyone. :mad::mad::mad:
     
  33. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I usually just would buy kids like that lunch discreetly out of my account with the cafeteria, and then make sure I called mom and told them to send lunch money. Although, the parents knew that after $10 they would get a sack lunch, and the lunch room sent home frequent reminders. I think the rule was that before switching to sack lunch the school had to call parents a certain number of times and send a certain number of notes.
     
  34. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    If students accounts get to be -$10, they are given a cheese sandwich and a milk. I think THAT is pretty embarrassing! I have never had a student who had to eat it. Usually the teachers pitch in for the day to buy the child lunch. I know that isn't teaching the parents anything, but the kids are so young-it isn't their fault. :(
     
  35. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    I remember having the cafe deny my CI child a lunch because he was short a QUARTER!!! He had lost the quarter in the morning. GRRRR. . .I paid the quarter.

    I talked to the P & was told that K-2 we had to provide a lunch for the students, starting in 3rd, if they didn't have the money then they didn't have a lunch.

    As a classroom teacher, that's not my responsibility. Even if I do make it my job sometimes to be sure my kiddos are fed.
     
  36. soleil00

    soleil00 Comrade

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    What's sad is that my school raised our lunch prices this year and put it at the END of the student handbook. I'm a K-1 school... how many parents do you think really read a handbook that talks about guns, knives, sexual assault, etc? Very few. Most of my parents didn't know the prices went up and were livid when their kid was sent home with the dreaded neon pink/green "you need money" tag stuck to their shirt!

    I understand something must be done, but.... I don't like this zero tolerance embarrassment method.
     
  37. ms99

    ms99 Rookie

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    I have mixed feelings on this subject. I don't like the idea of anyone taking advantage of the system and not paying their "bill". However, at the same time, it's not really the kids' fault. During student teaching, I had a student that had forgotten her lunch money and was going to have to give her tray back. I paid for her lunch. She was mortified, and I had a friend for life after saving her the embarassment.

    I think the key for this policy is for schools to find a way for it to be effective but not embarassing. I like the idea that they get their sandwich in a brown bag, so it just looks like they brought lunch. Furthermore, why do we have the kids pay after they get their lunch anyway? If they paid first, we would know if they owed or not and then they wouldn't have to give back their lunch in front of everyone.
     
  38. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    Here our schools don't allow kids to charge anything. If they don't have money on their account they take the tray away from them (in front of everyone) and give them pbj, veg, and milk.

    I teach kinder and this makes me so sad :(and angry:mad:
    With all the ways we spend money, kids' bellies should come first!

    As far as using the system, kids don't use the system. If you want to call CPS (for continuing not to send money) or fine the parent - whatever. But kids need to feel safe. Part of feeling safe is to have food in your belly. School lunch is the only lunch many of our kids get. If we can send money overseas, there is NO reason we shouldn't be able to feed our nations' kids! Unexcuseable!!
     
  39. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Let's hope the debt kids don't have a peanut allergy. A PB&J could be a deadly deal for owing the lunchroom money. :/
     
  40. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    It's not the difference in food as much as it is the stigma of "I don't have money so I'm not the same as you". It is VERY REAL. I teach kinders and they know. I've seen kids tell a child with a pbj, "Oh, you just really tell your mom to give you money so you can be like us". How heartbreaking for a 5 year old.
     
  41. soleil00

    soleil00 Comrade

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    See our "punishment" lunch IS different from the normal student lunch. How?

    We NEVER have sandwiches other than on early release days. The kids know this so they know that when a friend is getting a sandwich (plus the neon colored tag they stick on their shirts) that means that said friend has no money for lunch.

    So at my school, it is noticeable when a kid doesn't have lunch money because the lunches are completely different.
     

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