Giving Compass’ Take:
• Jessica Fu reports that some families are facing consequences for failure to pay their school lunch debt, even if they qualify for free lunch.
• How can funders work to ensure that all students have the food that they need to thrive in school?
Candrice Jones thought she was in the clear. It was the fall of 2015, and she had just submitted the necessary paperwork to secure free lunch for her son Kyrie, a seventh-grader at Coolidge Junior High School in Granite City, Illinois. This, she believed at the time, would lift a significant economic load off her plate.
Every day, Kyrie did what school kids across the country do. He punched his student number into a keypad at the end of the lunch line, ate his food in the cafeteria with friends, and got on with the second half of his school day.
But over a year later, Jones discovered that Kyrie’s free lunch application had been processed incorrectly. After she’d submitted it, the program covered Kyrie’s meals for just one month. Reimbursements then dropped off for reasons the school has not made clear to Jones. Instead of getting free lunch every day, Kyrie had been racking up lunch debt—nearly $1,000 worth of it.
Generally, parents can monitor their children’s lunch balances online. Coolidge Junior High, like many schools, uses a software system called Skyward to keep families updated on grades and lunch dues owed. But Jones didn’t use the program because Kyrie’s grades weren’t logged into that particular system.
Read the full article about school lunch debt by Jessica Fu at YES! Magazine.
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