Cherry Hill changes policy on unpaid student lunch balances

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The Cherry Hill Board of Education has changed its policy on how to punish delinquent school lunch balances.

The district’s previous policy was to only allow students who had delinquent accounts to have tuna fish sandwiches for lunch. But after negative backlash from the community over the policy, school officials voted to change it.

No student will be denied a meal under the new policy. However, if there is a balance they will only be able to receive the standard meal, no a la carte items. After a balance hits $10, the parents will be notified.

A sit-down meeting with parents will be requested if the balance hits $75. If this happens, the district will look to find a solution with the family to pay for the balance, including signing them up for free and reduced lunches.

RELATED: No more tuna-fish sandwiches: Cherry Hill school board looks to end food fight 

If that balance remains, students may be withheld from certain privileges. At the middle and high school level, this includes extra-curricular actives, school dances, non-educational trips and they won’t be allowed to buy a yearbook.

At the elementary level, this would mean they may not be able to go on class trips or participate in after-school activities.

School officials say that this would only be done as a last resort.

But some parents say that it is not the best thing to hold children responsible for the mistakes of their parents.

"I think you're holding the kids accountable for something that they probably don't have much control over,” says Meredith Robins. “So, don't know if it's the best way to go about it."

Other parents tell News 12 New Jersey that they understood the need for the policy, but questioned that if the parents cannot afford a lunch bill, how are they affording to send their children on class trips or dances.

School officials did not wish to talk to News 12 about the new policy.

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