Warwick, RI– The Warwick Public School system claims that it is owed more than $40,000 from outstanding lunch payments. Because of this growing debt, a new lunch policy will begin on Monday, May 13. If a student owes money or cannot pay for lunch, they will be served cold sandwiches instead of hot lunches, reports Fox News.
Starting on Monday, students that owe lunch money to the school will receive sun butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch “until the balance owed is paid in full or a payment plan is set up,” said the school system in a statement.
While some might say it's no big deal to serve students a fully edible cold sandwich for lunch, other say that it's unfair that the students are being punished for something outside of their control. Getting a free cold sandwich also has a certain stigma associated with it.
A local restaurant owner wrote on Facebook recently that two donations of $4,000 were recently turned down by the Warwick Public Schools to clear the lunch debt. The district responded by stating that they could not accept the donations, as this would lead to mistreatment of students, picking and choosing which students get relief from their debt. The district wants all students to be treated equally, with no one being singled out. The Warwick Public School Systems recommended that the donor instead take applications and decide who receives the money in the end.
A GoFundMe page was created to help pay off the school lunch debt. So far it has raise more than $13,000.
Students are offered free or reduced priced meals if their family has a low enough household income. Other factors may also determine whether the students are put on these free or reduced pricing plans. More information is available on the school system's website.
At this point, legislators are considering a change to Rhode Island's state law regarding hot lunches. Proposed legislation would require Warwick Public Schools to make free hot lunches readily available for all students, no matter their household income.