Lunch prices, policy change

Published 11:28 am Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Students and parents in Lunenburg County Public Schools (LCPS) may see changes to school lunch policies for the upcoming school year, including changes in meal prices and students with unpaid lunches receiving the standard meal instead of an alternative.

The 2017-18 full prices for breakfast and lunch will be $1.10 and $2, respectively.

The full prices for breakfast and lunch for the 2016-17 school year were $1 for breakfast and $1.90 for lunch.

Food Services Coordinator Claudia Daniel cited federal regulations from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a reason for the price change.

“We are required by (the) USDA to complete the Paid Lunch Equity tool annually,” Daniel said in an email. “The number of meals served the previous school year and the paid student price are entered to determine if prices will rise the next school year. We are raising prices because the Paid Lunch Equity tool determined it was required to meet federal regulations.”

The unpaid lunch policy was discussed during a June 30 LCPS school board meeting after Daniel proposed that students who have unpaid meals receive a standard lunch meal rather than receiving an alternative meal, which had been the former policy.

Daniel cited that the former rule could potentially humiliate students, and that for paying unpaid lunches — parents, not students — would be the ones held responsible.

“It’s embarrassing for (the students),” Daniel said. “And it’s not their fault.”

Parents would continue to be notified by phone and by written letters from the LCPS staff about the unpaid lunches in the proposed policy. Daniel said students who have compounding unpaid meal charges will not be able to participate in school field trips, prom or graduation.

The updated policy would also have parents potentially face legal action if meal charges become excessive.

Daniel said the proposed change came following a mandate from the USDA requiring all school food authorities to implement an unpaid meals policy.

Daniel said that at the end of the school year, the total balance for unpaid lunches in the division stood at $80, which Daniel said was not a bad rate.

The system that LCPS uses to track paid or unpaid school lunches also came under discussion, as Daniel proposed updating it.

As of June, the current system does not allow parents to track the credit balance for lunches or pay for lunches online. Daniel cited receiving calls from parents about credit errors.

District Seven Representative Amy McClure said during the June meeting that she and her daughter faced credit errors first hand.

“I know as a parent, I will send a check for $20, and the next thing I know (my daughter) is coming home telling me she had to have a cheese sandwich when I packed her lunch every day,” McClure said. “And I’m not sure her account was credited.”

The article was corrected from its original version.