Cherry Hill schools working to change lunch policy many say shamed students

Justin Udo
September 11, 2019 - 9:46 am
Tuna salad sandwich

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CHERRY HILL, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — The Cherry Hill school district is working on changing a controversial lunch policy, following backlash from the community.

It was the district's policy to serve tuna sandwich meals to students with outstanding lunch bills. However, that policy of not giving those kids foods like pizza, burgers, or tacos has not been well received.

"I can understand as parents why they felt like the kids were being shamed, and why there was such outrage over the policy," said Jessica Rodriguez, a Cherry Hill school district parent.

Rodriguez says she is happy with a new policy the administration is evaluating that lets kids with outstanding lunch debt have the same meal options as other students.

"I think the administration and board stepped up and cohesively came to a better understanding for everybody," she said.

School district resident Yoni Yares agrees. 

"I think the district did a great job of listening and hearing what parents were saying, and trying to figure out how can we edit our policy," Yares said.

Cherry Hill Public Schools spokesperson Barbra Wilson says they are also looking at ways to better work with families who cannot afford lunch but may not be eligible for a free lunch.

"What's being proposed right now would include an in-person meeting with an administrator, possibly the superintendent, with the family how this can be addressed if the families need help, if they don't qualify for free or reduced-price lunch," Wilson said.

The lunch policy has received a lot of attention from the district after they forgave $25,000 in lunch debt two years ago, only to accrue $18,000 in more over the past year.

Wilson says it's currently the state's policy that they should not serve students lunch when they acrew a certain amount of unpaid lunch bills.