School to serve cold lunches to students whose families owe lunch money

A group of public schools have sparked outrage after announcing cold sandwiches would be served to children whose parents owed money for unpaid lunches.

Parents expressed their horror online, slamming the government-run schools, in Rhode Island, for punishing children for something beyond their control.

The announcement was made to Warwick Public Schools’ Facebook on May 6, with the post declaring the harsh policy would come into effect from May 13.

Parents usually select their child’s meals from a menu and pay for them online - topping up their account balance according to what their child ate.

But the schools said too many parents failed to pay off arrears, so in a move to incentivise debt payment, children would be served a “sun butter and jelly sandwich”.

A group of government-run schools have come under fire after announcing children would be served cold lunch if their parents had outstanding bills. Getty Images/file
A group of government-run schools have come under fire after announcing children would be served cold lunch if their parents had outstanding bills. Getty Images/file

Children would continue to be served the sandwich “until the balance owed is paid in full or a payment plan is set up” the post stated.

The announcement received fiery backlash from hundreds of angry parents, some comparing the treatment to meal options available to criminals in prison.

“Why do inmates eat better than school children, and at no cost? Infuriating,” a social media user wrote in a comment beneath the post.

Many parents argued the accounting systems operated by the schools was not always correct - some claiming to have paid off debt but to still be receiving bills.

Several agreed children should never be punished by a system created and dictated by adults, particularly one that was flawed.

Caucasian boy pouting at dinner table
Children would continue to be served the sandwich “until the balance owed is paid in full or a payment plan is set up” the school said. Source: Getty Images/file

“The fact that some kids will have to suffer due to something that could be beyond their control is awful,” someone wrote.

“I don’t even get how you explain this to a kindergartener or first grader.. ‘No sorry sweetie you have to eat the most disgusting thing the school offers’,” another said.

School Committee chairwoman Karen Bachus argued the policy needed to be enforced due to the growing financial strain largely a result of unpaid lunches.

“This policy actually comes out of a serious debt that we’re incurring by people who are not paying for their lunches, and it’s getting worse,” Ms Bachus told The Providence Journal.

By the financial year ending June 30, the schools would be grappling to offset more than $40,000 due to parents not paying for their children’s lunch, Ms Bachus said.

Parents struggling financially could apply annually to receive cheaper student meals, which would mean instead of paying $2.65 for breakfast, they would pay 45 cents.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, download the Yahoo News app from iTunes or Google Play and stay up to date with the latest news with Yahoo’s daily newsletter. Sign up here.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting