Recovering lunch debt
To prevent lunch debt from adding up, Diane Pratt-Heavner of the School Nutrition Association recommends:
- Show parents how to apply for meal benefits online or via phone, with assistance in other languages if necessary.
- High-poverty districts should apply for a federal Community Eligibility Provision to serve free meals to all students without the need for individual household applications.
- Consider practices that do not stigmatize students who cannot pay, such as providing lunch in a brown bag so it looks like it came from home.
- Reach out to parents who can afford to pay for meals to ensure that they are doing so, and consider tracking payments with an online system.
- Connect needy students with charitable organizations and other community resources.
LINK TO MAIN STORY: Debt mounts as school lunch shaming ends