Recently, the Lebanon Community School Corporation has been made aware of the issue of “lunch shaming”, which is defined as the overt identification and stigmatization of any student that does not have enough money to buy a school meal (via American Bar Association).
When it became apparent that there was speculation within the community that there was a form of lunch shaming going on in one of the LCSC schools, Director of Food Services Jennifer Rice wanted to clear things up for anybody that had concerns over the rumors.
“I want to clarify that we did not shame anybody,” Rice said.
LCSC has implemented a No-Charging Policy in all elementary, middle, and high schools throughout the community. A No-Charging Policy means that if there are no funds in a student’s lunch account, the standard breakfast or lunch options cannot be provided. Although the standard lunches are not available without the respective funds, there are alternative lunch options that are available. The elementary schools offer a fresh fruits and veggie cart where students are able to pick healthy foods to sustain them throughout the day.
“We always make sure a child eats. There is an alternative menu where the kids can get a sandwich, fruit, and milk,” Rice said.
Rice explained that while there is an obligation for Food Services to follow certain rules, they assure that they will continue to work closely with parents and students to solve any issue that may make itself apparent in the future.
“Our first priority is always the child; they always come first. We have a policy that the school sets, and it is up to Food Service to make sure we follow that policy. It has been around for 21 years and it is in the student handbook,” Rice said.
The policy will remain concrete and unchanged in order to protect the budget of Lebanon Schools so that top-quality, healthy foods can continue to be provided to students.
Food Service also allow students to apply for free or reduced lunch. Along with this, community members and staff within LCSC are also allowed to provide monetary support towards students’ lunch funds.