NJ school district ending 'tuna policy' for students with unpaid lunch debt
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A New Jersey school district said it will not move forward with its controversial policy of giving tuna sandwiches to students with unpaid school lunch debt following a public outcry over the policy.

The Cherry Hill School District in New Jersey announced Tuesday that it would discontinue the policy that was put in place to feed students who owed more than $10, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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The policy also called for not serving lunch to students whose debt exceeded $20, though it never was enforced after changes to the policy were announced two weeks ago, prompting backlash and national media attention.

Oliver Adler, Cherry Hill High School East student body president, made an impassioned plea to the school board at a meeting Tuesday night, urging it to change what has become known as “the tuna policy.”

“What the board may fail to recognize is that school cafeterias are not always friendly places, and students will be stigmatized,” Adler said. “Meal options, like other things, document status.”

Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn and City Council President David Fleisher and council members issued a statement this week in opposition to the proposal.

“A policy that restricts or limits a child’s access to food is not right — and is simply unacceptable,” Cahn said.

Cherry Hill school superintendent Joseph Meloche said the board would present a revised policy next month.

“We realize that there are things in the policy that need to be redone, that we need to work on, that we need to talk about and have a discussion as a board and a community,” he said. 

As the school year begins for the district next week, any student who does not have money to pay for a school lunch will still be fed. The district enrolls roughly 11,000 students and about 20 percent are eligible for reduced-price or free meals.