An assistant superintendent of a New Jersey school district has proposed a new policy that would withhold school lunches from students that have a $20 or greater lunch debt, and restrict students with $10 of debt to a tuna fish sandwich.
According to a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Assistant Superintendent Lynn Shugars of the school district in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, proposed major restrictions on lunches for low-income K-12 students. Under Shugars’ new proposal, students who owe $10 in lunch debt will receive a tuna fish sandwich. Students who owe $20 or more will receive no food at all.
The report claims that Shugars proposed the policy in response to a $14,000 meal debt incurred by several hundred students in the district. Perhaps what is most striking about Shugars’s proposed policy is the reason why students with $10 in lunch debt will receive tuna fish instead of peanut butter. It’s not because tuna fish sandwiches are more cost efficient for the district or more nutritious for the students. It’s because students enjoy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches too much.
Assistant Superintendent Lynn Shugars unveiled a proposal to tweak the district’s tuna fish sandwich policy at a school board meeting Tuesday night, citing a $14,343 meal debt incurred by about 343 students in the South Jersey school district. She said the district opted for tuna fish over peanut butter “because we know that our little ones would probably very happily eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches until the end of time.”
The policy has sparked a lively debate in the community about the role of the school district in providing lunch to those who cannot afford them.
“You can’t send kids to school and not feed them,” one parent told a reporter. “It’s just not right. This is a very unfair system that needs to be fixed.”
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