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Greenfield to end "lunch shaming" with new policy

Posted: 4:17 PM, Jun 02, 2017
Updated: 2017-06-03 00:48:47Z

GREENFIELD -- The Greenfield-Central Community School Corporation is hoping their new lunch policy will end “poor shaming” in its cafeterias.

The district’s school board recently approved the new policy, which takes effect this fall and shifts the burden of insufficient funds to the parents, rather than the children.

The United States Department of Agriculture oversees federal funding and requires school districts to set policies regarding students’ lunch accounts by July 1.

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Currently, students in Greenfield are allowed to charge three meals.

After that, the child is given an alternative meal, which is typically a turkey sandwich, nicknamed “the sandwich of shame.”

Food service director Tony Zurwell said getting a different meal just embarrasses the child in front of their friends.

"You're in line, and you don't get to eat pizza, and you get this other tray,” said Zurwell. “It's never a good moment I've seen, especially for the younger kids. (I’ve seen crying) on pizza day.”

Under the new policy, students will be allowed to charge regular meals indefinitely.

After 20 days of nonpayment, the district will send the parents to collections

Last year, the district spent $9,000 on alternative meals for children with insufficient funds.

“We're hoping folks will like what we're doing and send some donations to the central office,” said Zurwell. “We have a Feed the Future Fund. That would be awesome."

The new policy applies to K-6 students in the district’s four elementary and two intermediate schools.

At the Boys and Girls summer camp in Greenfield, about half of the students will be on free and reduced lunch when school resumes.

Many kids struggle with hunger, according to Candace Sexton, Unit Director for the Boys and Girls Club of Hancock County.

“We’ve had kids that would want to steal other kids’ snacks, or you know, be begging another kid to get something out of the vending machine,” said Sexton. “It's a big deal.  I think all kids should have the opportunity to eat and not feel ashamed of the backgrounds they came from."

RTV6 is working for you to find out other school districts’ policies.

IPS does not have to have a policy because it serves breakfast and lunch to all students free of charge under the USDA’s Community Eligibility Provision, which covers low-income areas.

“We are fortunate not to have to develop policies for meal charging or serving alternative meals to students because with CEP there are no student meal accounts,” said Carrie Black, IPS spokesperson. “It is a non-issue for our district.”