NJ school district policy would refuse lunches to students who have $20 or more in lunch debt
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Under a policy being considered by a school district in New Jersey, students with school lunch debts of $20 or more would be denied food, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

During a school board meeting on Tuesday, Lynn Shugars, the assistant superintendent of the Cherry Hill school district, which is just 20 miles outside of Philadelphia, proposed that the policy, which is already on the books, be "fully followed," according to the Inquirer.

“I know that that will not be a popular decision. No one wants to see a child upset because they can’t get what they want for lunch,” Shugars said. “But I feel that we are at a point ... where that’s the stance that we should take.”

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“If we don’t adhere to our policy, we’re going to be perpetually, I feel, chasing after this problem,” she continued. “I have concerns that if people feel that we are not addressing it, that other people will not pay balances.”

Her remarks prompted backlash among parents and local community members who say the proposal amounts to "lunch shaming."

Rick Short, a parent with four children enrolled in the school district, blasted Shugars's proposal in an interview with the Inquirer, saying: “You can’t send kids to school and not feed them.”

“It’s just not right. This is a very unfair system that needs to be fixed,” Short said, while adding that some local residents would likely “be willing to make donations to clear the outstanding debt.”

However, a representative for the district, Barbara Wilson, told the paper that the district is unwilling to accept outside donations to pay off lunch debts.

Shugars has expressed suspicion that some parents may be failing to pay off the lunch debts for reasons other than financial need.

Out of the school district’s annual $211 million budget, roughly $3 million is directed toward the meal program, according to the Inquirer.

Last school year, the program reportedly raked in a profit of $200,000. However, Shugars has reportedly warned that the district, which is one of the largest in New Jersey, could find itself in debt with the program if the policy is not enforced now.