school lunch

A debate over whether schools can deny students free lunch arose after several highly-publicized incidents across the country. A Kankakee woman now says her 8th grader was recently denied pizza because her account was short.

The mother of a Kankakee Junior High School student is alleging that the school denied the student a free lunch when she didn't have money to pay for it.

Paulla Grzych said her 8th grader's prepaid lunch account was short when she recently tried to buy a slice of pizza and a drink for under $3. District policy would have allowed the girl to receive free of charge an alternate lunch consisting of a cheese sandwich, fruit, vegetable and milk, but Grzych said that's something her daughter was never offered.

"I'm not badmouthing the school," said Grzych, whose daughter does not qualify for free or reduced meals. "I'm badmouthing the policy."

While there is a separate lunch option available for students able to pay for it, 86 percent of the district's students qualify for free or reduced meals. Still, denying a student who can not pay, or says he can't pay, is not illegal.

The moral question, however, is one that has been debated in recent weeks as several districts across the country made news for similar reasons.

Cathy Breeck, Kankakee School District 111's food service director, said the district's rules about lunch account balances is a budgetary issue.

"We have expenses that have to be paid," Breeck said. "Schools are going into the red because they are not holding people accountable for paying bills."

Ultimately, schools get to decide how to handle unpaid meal charges, said United Sates Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon, in a letter released shortly after an incident in Utah where students were denied certain lunches and offered replacements instead.

But Concannon indicated he would prefer that schools did not throw out any lunches.

"Denying or taking food away from children is a form of punishment and stigmatizes children whose parents are behind on payments," Concannon said.

(3) comments

City News

This article is very difficult to read! When our nation hands out money for guns and other war supplies to other nations, and when President has just promised a billion to the Ukraine and then decides to vacation at Florida's exclusive Ocean Reef Club for of all things, to play golf at a cost that would likely feed all the children in Illinois school lunch for a month - hard to read is really an understatement! Imagine if you will, the cost of Secret Service agents to guard the President while he golfs, the fact that the Federal Aviation Administration has issued a warning to all pilots not to fly over the golf course area for miles from today until Sunday, the fact that Mr. Obama has rented seven or more homes for himself and friends to live in while he dines, plays golf and Lord knows what else. and right here in our town, the federal government can't pitch in and let the children eat a free lunch. After all, when many of our youths and their parents get finished off by Obama Care, a free lunch is about what most will have left. But who cares, the important thing is what soup did the President and the First Lady have for lunch and what is the golfing like these days in sunny Florida? James Taylor Sr.

Say It

[offtopic] What does President Obama have to do with an 8th grader over spending on their lunch account?
What kind of President would he be if he didn't have Secret Service, I'll tell you Mr. Taylor DEAD. Is that what you want. Probably you're just jealous.
Now please go edit your newspaper. The writing sucks.

Say It

"The mother of a Kankakee Junior High School student is alleging that the school denied the student a free lunch when she didn't have money to pay for it." You can't PAY FOR a FREE LUNCH you have to qualify for it.

There is paper work that is filled out that the beginning of the year. "Paulla Grzych said her 8th grader's prepaid lunch account was short when she recently tried to buy a slice of pizza and a drink for under $3."[huh]

These are not regular lunch items they are the "ala carte" items. " No students will be allowed to go into a negative balance to purchase ala carte items." According to school policy.

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