Concern in Stewartville over a new policy by the school district - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Concern in Stewartville over a new policy by the school district

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STEWARTVILLE, Minn. (KTTC) -

According to the Unpaid Meal Charge Policy, if an account balance for a student is negative, those children are given an alternative meal.

But the execution of this policy by Stewartville Public Schools is what's worrying some parents. One concerned parent reached out to us to tell us what her children saw at school.

Jill Haggerty said her kids do not have a negative balance so this didn't happen to them, but rather to other classmates.

What her children saw in their school lunch room made them urge her not to let their family account become negative.

"The lady that I talked to [Thursday] morning, she did confirm that the cashier has been told by food services that if the children have a balance of negative one cent or below, that the cashier has a spatula and they scoop the food off of their tray, dump it into a bucket that is between their legs, and they place a sandwich on their plate and that's what they're served."

The Stewartville School Board approved an Unpaid Meal Charge Policy in October.

Parents were notified on October 26, and the policy went into effect November 1.

Haggerty said the policy is having a negative impact on the affected students.

"Some of them now are to the point where they don't even go up and eat. They don't go through because they're embarrassed because they don't know what their lunch account is at," she said.

Stewartville Public Schools Superintendent Belinda Selfors said the unpaid school lunch accounts add up to about $10,000. 

"I asked if there was a, you know, a minimum warning. Like you know between zero and $25, you know, a notice that goes out get your account paid and that is not the case," said Haggerty.

Superintendent Selfors said those alternative meals meet all the USDA requirements for a full nutritious meal.

"It's cruel. I feel like in a society where these kids are now, when there's so much peer pressure and there's so much bullying and shaming, and these kids - you walk into a very large lunch room and how embarrassed, how embarrassing is that for you to have your food scooped off your plate, and dumped into a bucket," said Haggerty.

According to the policy the cost of the alternative meal is $1, charged to the student or the student's account.

In addition, the policy states that "the school district will make reasonable efforts to communicate with families to resolve the matter of unpaid charges," and depending on the situation they may encourage families to apply for free and reduced-price meals for their children.

  • Do you agree with Stewartville Public School's 'Unpaid Meal Charge Policy'?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Yes
    6%
    462 votes
    No
    94%
    6713 votes
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